Focal Passage: Malachi 1:1-11
When God spoke to His people through Malachi, they were struggling. Though God had protected them during the Babylonian exile and provided for their return home, they arrogantly doubted His commitment to them.
“‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’” They questioned not only His commitment, but also His sincerity – “You don’t love us. What have you done for us, anyway, if you say you love us?”
Like an immature child, the people of God responded with entitlement, forgetting all He had done for them. So He reminded them. Though He is worthy of honor, they thought only of themselves. Though He is worthy of reverence and fear, they despised His name.
Even the priests, the spiritual leaders of the community, ignored and disdained Him. Instead of preparing and committing the best sacrifices they had, they offered Him what was left after setting aside what they wanted for themselves.
“Would you offer this to your governor and ask for favor? No! Yet you ask the favor of the Lord?” They offered pathetic sacrifices and then expected God to bless them, and when He didn’t they became cynical. But God, in His kindness and mercy, reminded them of His covenant with them.
They were to honor His name, both in word and in sacrifice. Instead of worshipping God out of their love for His holiness, the people worshipped out of their love of personal reward. God was faithful to His covenant people, because He promised He would be, but He did not ignore their dismissal of His commands.
This is still true today. How often do we take God’s faithfulness, intimacy and presence for granted in our own lives? God declared His name would be great among all nations of the world – that His power, strength, goodness, kindness, holiness and presence would be manifest to all of His creation for their good.
When we doubt God’s love and respond to Him in careless worship, we declare something very different about God’s nature.