“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ – Mal. 1:6 NIV
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The biblical book of Malachi, which contains the foundation scripture for today’s Devotional is the last book in the Old Testament section of the Christian Holy Book, and it opens with Malachi, who is a Prophet, informing the Israelites about unhappiness of the Lord with them. In response to the Israelites, probably justifying their now very familiar acts of unfaithfulness to Jehovah, by questioning His claims that he loves them, Jehovah through Malachi, reminded them of how He favoured Israel over Esau, who was his twin brother, by His open expression of love for Israel, who was then known as Jacob, and his hatred for Esau, whose land He turned into a wasteland, with his inheritance left for jackals to feast on, and still promising to counter any attempts on their part to rebuild those wastelands – Gen. 25:23. This kind of action was done to the Israelites, despite their regular acts of unfaithfulness, as a confirmation of His love for them – Mal. 1:2-5.
Despite this demonstrated love, they would not stop at being unfaithful and still go ahead to dishonour Him by breaking his Covenants through the offering of blemished sacrifices. They present these sacrifices in the belief that they are honouring Jehovah but He wonders where the honour was if all they could offer were blind, lame and diseased animals, which they would dare not offer to their Governors – Mal. 1:6-9; 12-13. He wished that the temple doors would be shut to prevent further presentation of blemished offerings, so that what He described as “useless fire” will not be lit on His Altar. He made it clear that he will only accept incense and pure offerings that will bring greatness to His name and not one that will profane His name, just as he placed a curse on all those who can afford standard offerings, but choose to bring defiled offering to Him, calling them cheats – Mal. 1:10-14.
In the foundation scripture for today’s Devotional, the Almighty God references what he considers the hypocritical statements being made by the Israelites when they refer to Him as their father or Master, wondering where such honour is when their actions are at best, ridiculing His personality. As much as He thought the people did not honour Him, the Priests could not also be exonerated from blame for accepting those blemished animals and agreeing to offer them to Him, on their behalf.
Whatever the case may be, everyone had a share of the blame, but more important was the curse He placed on such people who dishonour Him by offering such blemished sacrifices. An action that they did, with the belief that they were honouring Jehovah in the least and may be in expectation of a positive reward, has brought them under His curse. No wonder, many people today claim to honour or appreciate Him by bringing offerings, in expectation of positive rewards, but all that ever follow are negative events, that clearly indicate that He is not happy with them. Lots of money is expended on exercises aimed at honouring, appreciating or appeasing Him by people, who for example harbour very negative thoughts (Matt. 5:23-24), in expectation of positive rewards, but the result is undesirable. Cain did not just have his offering rejected by Jehovah, as envy and jealousy further earned him curses from the Lord – Gen. 4:1-16. Likewise, the Christian today should expect a similar reaction from the Lord. This is because of the curse he has placed on all who choose to dishonour Him with blemished offerings, supposedly to demonstrate their love and honour for Him, but going further to accuse Him of not loving them despite all their offerings to Him, because of unmet expectations – Mal. 1:14.
Christians must realise always that they are not compelled in any way to do anything in honour of Jehovah, as He always desires cheerful giving – 2Cor. 9:6-7. Like the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, bringing offering to the Lord though very compulsory, must not be done by compulsion. The one who brings offering to Him should know that such offering, brought or not, will not stop Him from being the Sovereign Lord over all things, and such an act must be viewed from the perspective of the desire to honour Him, in which case, whatever is brought must meet with His standard. Do not bring an offering that will bring curses into your life, rather, bring that which will honour God and attract His blessings. Only the best will attract the interest of Jehovah but deliberately choosing that sub-standard one is an attempt to ridicule and dishonour Him. That will only attract His curse. Do not just do it, but do it right. Avoid all the acts that can put blemishes on your offering so that He will receive the deserved honour that He merits as your father or Master. May God grant us the Spirit to present offerings that are without blemish, so that He will be honoured and we can be blessed in Jesus name. Amen.