1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Malachi, Lesson IV, Malachi 1:6-14

The questions of Israel, Wherein have we despised thy name? and Wherein have we polluted thee? are answered by God through Malachi in the latter half of Malachi chapter two.

Malachi has been chosen by God to deliver His word to a disobedient people, a people indifferent to His word, a people apathetic but while in their apathy, going through the motions of religion.

 In Malachi’s message God claims father status, and Master status, wherein fear and honor ought to come to him but instead of honor and fear they offer for sacrifice rotten bread, the blind, the torn, the lame, and the sick. 

Instead of honor and fear, instead of bringing the best to the sacrifice they give what is left. 

They had become a practical people instead of an obedient people, choosing to keep for themselves the whole, the pure, the undefiled, the unblemished, and offer to the Lord the bruised, the crushed, the cut, the blind and broken, justifying themselves as people of good practical sense.

They had come to an opinion that the commands of the law were for a time past and were too rigid for their enlightened time and it made sense to be practical about things like this. 


As long as we perform our duties from the outward, as long as we sacrifice and go through the ritual of the temple demands we are satisfied, was their thinking.


But God is God and he expects obedience even in the matter of sacrifice. 


Had not he said through the prophet Samuel in I Samuel 15:22, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.


So God brings to their mind the truth for He tells them in all of this that they despise His name.


Of course they were oblivious to this for they were satisfied in their religious practices but they were not offering sacrifices to please the God of Israel. 


Their focus was upon themselves, magnifying themselves instead of magnifying His name nor were they seeking to exalt and glorify God as He commands.


This world in which the children of Israel operated is the world created by the nature in which we live for we all have a nature to sin. 


It is very easy and in all this we are prone to perform our Christian duties with the wrong motives. 


Why do we attempt to serve God?

Is it to bring glory to Him or could it be from the depths of our heart an attempt to bring notice to ourselves?


Malachi reminds us to look around and take note of his message personally for we live in the age of “convenience and whatever” and that age has permeated the church.


We are the body of Christ and in that sacred description of the church there is given all we need to know about how the church is to function.


We are to function as Christ’s body would function.


We are to be a body, a church that is to approve all things that are excellent!


All we need to know about how the church is to function is in God’s word yet we see a church being corrupted by the methods of the world. 


The world moves the church to present itself: only as a feel good place, only as a positive place, only as an uplifting place, a place where preaching against sin in shunned, a place where truth takes a back seat, a place of entertainment instead of a place of worship, instead of a place where God’s word is pre-eminent whether it uplifts or downcasts, whether it commends or rebukes.


The word goes out to a compliant pastor to keep the sermon positive for 15 or 20 minutes so the audience, not the congregation, can have extended entertainment to bring in the masses who will bring the golden coins which will bring that necessary profit. 


The thinking is: God certainly in 2016 cannot be expected to provide everything we desire so the money must come in to meet all our desires.


And then God says this astounding statement in chapter 1, verse 10 which I believe could apply in our age, and I read this from the New American Standard for better clarity:


“Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.


God says it were better to cease the sacrifices, to shut up the temple, to stop the ritual prescribed so long ago and not uselessly go through the motions of this hypocritical offering.


How many churches of this nation would be closed if this command were obeyed?


How many churches are simply going through the motions each Sunday morning each Sunday evening, each prayer service? 


But God is interested in His body honoring His head. 


So many bodies are engaged in convenience worship which only honors the body itself. 


If we take this principle that God has declared relative to the temple to our day it would be far better to close the doors of these churches than to dishonor God by meeting for other then worship as defined by His word.


Everything that God had ordained to be practiced in the Tabernacle was for a spiritual reason. 


Nothing was to be altered, all was to be done down to the smallest detail. 


Israel had no right to alter anything but Israel did not even understand this. 


Sacrifices were demanded of God to show the people that they were sinners approaching a holy God and to offer flawed or imperfect sacrifices diminished in their minds the holiness of God.


It was an assertion that any old sacrifice would satisfy a “whatever” God, a God of their making. 


It was an assertion that our God is satisfied by us simply practicing our religion as far as we define it, the religion of going through the motions.


But that is not who God is!


God is a commanding and demanding God, a righteous God and if he were anything else he would not be a saving God. 


Our God commands sacrifice to be unblemished for he commands His Lamb of God, His only begotten Son to be unblemished for if he were any other than that we would all be lost.


God’s manual in operating the tabernacle and the temple was the only manual and not open to alteration or compromise.


God’s plan of salvation is the only plan for God is a God of absolutes. 


God’s sacrifice, the man called Jesus, the Lamb of God is unblemished, without sin, holy, righteous and the only sacrifice acceptable to God for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. 


The church, the body of Christ is given to declare the good news to the world. 


That is our mission. 


It is our mission to declare to sinners that they be reconciled to the one who made them, the one who declares himself the one to whom they have to do. 


Our mission is to offer to sinners the only way of escape from the righteous judgment of our Holy God for this God, this God of Malachi, is a God who loves and desires that all come to him. 


Our mission is not to offer a message of the gaining of personal fulfillment and happiness. 


It is not a message whereby coming to Jesus will bring you success in business or personal goals. 


It is about sin and repentance, it is about humbly bowing the knee to a Holy God, a God who brings to you the message of eternal life.


But in this message we are to be true to God’s word for as God concludes this chapter He says:


14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.


Here in verse 14 God through Malachi reminds this indifferent people that He is a great King, and His name will be revered among the nations. 


He had already said this in verse 11 for from the rising and setting of the sun, in every place incense will be offered unto His name. 


God is declaring what is to come, not what may become, but what will become, while the people were content and satisfied in the now and now performing their religious ritual thinking that in that alone they were pleasing to God.


This is the mark of a faithless people, a people of Abraham only in the flesh, not a people of Abraham in the spirit who looketh for a city, whose builder and maker is God.


We as Christians must be reminded very often of our purpose for our purpose is defined by our Creator God, as it should be, and our God’s purpose is to glorify His name among the nations. 


Everything that is done in God’s name is for the purpose of bringing glory to God.


God has made this very clear in His word that he is a jealous God, a God who claims all worship, all praise, all honor or adoration is His and belong to no other.


He alone is worthy.


Isaiah 42:8 among many other verses makes this clear, I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.


God has created all things for His glory.


He established a people from the loins of Abraham and placed them in the womb of Egypt that He might deliver them to a land flowing with milk and honey and that He would receive from this great glory.


Jesus Christ was sent to bring salvation to the world and those who are saved glorify Him for that great mercy and grace.


And again soon Jesus will come again with great power and glory and in the end as it tells us in:


Habakkuk 2:14, ….. the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.


We are indeed created to love God and in this love glory is brought to His throne. 


We are created to love one another and part of that love is to bring to the nations the good news that God will provide eternal life to all who take hold of His Son clinging to Him as their only Savior and in this all glory will be to God.


And the lesson to us and to the children of Israel is that God gave his all to us in His Son, Jesus Christ, and we should give our all to Him. 


Give of your best to the Master.


This transaction should be so easy to do after we ponder what God has done for us and getting our eyes upon Jesus seeing what is before us as planned by God.


We are indeed bought with a great price, a price far above rubies, or diamonds or gold or anything this world can offer. 


God shed His own precious blood to purchase us and bring us into His family. 


Knowing this, how is it possible to not give of our best for the Master.


How is it possible to hold back the unblemished, the pure, the valuable for ourselves and to offer to God the leftovers of our life?


See what pleased God in the example of the poor widow whom Jesus took note of. 


The rich men were many and they were proud of their riches as they cast their gifts into the treasury. 


But did Jesus praise them for giving a little of their vast estates? 


No, but He did praise the widow who cast in two mites for Jesus said,


Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. 


What is the lesson of Christ here? 


God is pleased by your sacrifice. 


God is pleased when your giving is not based upon your convenience.


The rich gave of their surplus, but she gave of all that she had on which to live. 


When the rich gave they had plenty of food to eat but when the poor widow gave all, she declared her dependence upon God for her daily bread.


What a contrast Mary of Bethany provided in the matter of giving. 


For with a pound of spikenard, very costly, she anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. 


In this she truly worshipped her Master for in this act she gave her all.


Ah, but the practical ones appeared and brought their distain upon her for this waste. 


Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?


How wonderful to think of the poor but the poor you will always have with you. 


Mary had her priorities straight.


Mary worships, Judas despises and plots.


Mary gave her all to Jesus and Judas desired all for himself by desiring to take from Jesus, Mary’s worship


God desires sacrificial giving. 


G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “Sacrilege is centered in offering God something which costs nothing, because you think God is worth nothing”


King David knew this principle for in the buying of the threshing floor, recorded in II Sam 24:24, so as to rear up an altar of the Lord he said after Araunah offered the floor at no cost:


24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.


David wished to honor God by sacrifice, sacrifice that costs, sacrifice that may put you in a place where you are to simply trust God for the outcome. 


God is so honored by such a heart.