Focal Passage: Malachi 1:6-2:9
For several years I operated a stockyard with my
father-in-law. Our business included the sale of culled dairy cows for
slaughter — blind, lame, and unproductive animals that were of no further use
to their owners. Animals like these got the attention of the prophet Malachi
because they were being brought to the temple as an offering to God.
In Malachi’s day, the Jews had returned to their homeland
after living in exile for 70 years.
The temple had been rebuilt and the worship of God
reestablished. The offering of sacrifices was at the center of Jewish worship.
Malachi was concerned about the quality of worship he witnessed because the
people were offering blemished animals as a sacrifice to holy God. They were
giving God what had no value to them.
The priests were showing “contempt” for God by accepting
these inferior offerings from the people.
They were merely going through the motions, keeping the
fires burning on the temple altar. But God said that it was useless (1:10).
He preferred that they close the doors rather than play
their religious games.
Imagine the parade of pathetic animals stumbling blindly
toward the temple. God says “Is that not wrong?” twice in verse 8 because the
people, and certainly the priests, should have known better. In Leviticus 22:2,
19-20, God clearly is not interested in substandard sacrifices: “Tell Aaron and
his sons to treat with respect the sacred offerings the Israelites consecrate
to me, so they will not profane my holy name. I am the Lord … you must present
a male without defect from the cattle, sheep, or goats in order that it may be
accepted on your behalf. Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will
not be accepted on your behalf.”
Giving to God as an act of worship is a sacred duty.
Sacrifice is a very important element of the kind of giving that pleases God.
It is foolish merely to offer God what we determine to be affordable and then
expect abundant blessings from him. The true value of any gift is the cost of
the gift to the giver.
Our gifts reveal our estimate of the one to whom we offer
them. G. Campbell Morgan observed, “Sacrilege is centered in offering God
something which costs nothing, because you think God is worth nothing” (Wherein
Have We Robbed God? [Revell], p. 50). We only honor God when we offer him our
How much personal sacrifice is involved in your gifts to