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

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

We left this passage in Malachi, the first chapter, speaking of giving our best to the Master.

God has shown His disfavor to His people Israel who had fallen into the habits of religion and had reasoned themselves into holding back the unblemished, the pure, the valuable for themselves and to offer to God the leftovers of their lives.

Jesus in His time on Earth made it very clear in what pleases Him by telling us of the poor widow who cast in her offering of her last two mites. 

Contrasting this to the rich men who gave of their plenty he 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 (poverty) hath cast in all the living that she had. 

 

The lesson of course of Jesus Christ is that God is pleased by sacrifice for sacrificial living is faith revealing living. 

 

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. 

 

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. 

 

Aha, but the practical ones appeared and brought their distain upon her for this waste, refusing to see value in her worship. 

 

Why wasnít this ointment sold for three hundred pence (in our day $300 to $400), and given to the poor?

 

It is good to think of the welfare 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, Maryís worship.

 

God desires sacrificial giving for it is connected to worship. 

 

G. Campbell Morgan wrote, ďSacrilege is centered in offering God something which costs nothing, because you think God is worth nothing. God looks for the giving at His altar of a gift that costs somethingĒ

 

King David knew this principle for in the buying of the threshing floor, recorded in II Sam 24:24, in order 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 threshing floor 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 and he desires that kind of heart for His children.

 

God then asks them to think about what they would do for someone in power whom they can see face to face. 

 

If you would give of your best to him or her whom you can see is it to be any different doing for one that you cannot see?

 

Is there any power on Earth greater than the Powerful One who made the Earth?

 

God has so made us to give Him the best not only in quantity but in quality.

 

He spoke of the quality of that which was brought for sacrifice. 

 

He saw the quality of the sheep that were brought, blind, sick, lame, aged and God was displeased for they were not the best and in conformance with His command.

 

Try doing that in similar fashion to those in power around you and see the reaction.

 

Think about this when giving of your time or talent or wealth or your poverty. 

 

What is the quality of your giving to God? 

 

Think about the time spent in worship versus the time spent on your own things. 

 

Think about anything done for God versus that which is done for your employer. 

 

Shouldnít that which is given to God be of the best quality that you can provide? 

 

When we give to those who serve God in some capacity, such as our pastors, our teachers, our missionaries, our full time workers, do we think of giving our best in terms of quality?

 

Another revealing fact about what God saw at the temple in the matter of the sacrifice was the decision by the priest and the people with regard to priority. 

 

What and Who did they put first? 

 

Did they put God first by bringing to the altar the best, the unblemished, the strong? 

 

What were they seeking in life? 

 

Were they just seeking to pad their wallets and purses and bank accounts for this short and passing life? 

 

Of course they were for they had only their religion, a religion meant only for this life, not capable of taking them into an eternity with God.

 

They valued unblemished animals more than being one with God.

 

They valued that which passes away higher than that which survives eternity.

 

Jesus made it clear in Matthew 6:33 the priority of life by teaching:

 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Israel sought first what they could get out of God instead of what they could give to God.

 

But doesnít God promise those who seek Him first to add to them all the things not only they need in this life, but in the next also?

 

Think about that amazing transaction God extends to all who believe on Him. 

 

Why is it that we choose to eat the crumbs that fall on the floor when we can be dining at the Masterís table fully set with all the best dinner ware and silver and most delicious and diverse food?

 

We are challenged by Malachiís burden to ask ourselves what we value, what we put first.

 

Is my value system in line with Godís?

 

Do I seek first Godís kingdom in my home, my business, my church, my recreation, my pastimes, my relationships? 

 

When God looks down and sees me does he see me looking back or am I too engaged in doing my own thing.

 

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and the first place to seek that is in Godís word. 

 

God knows our weakness but He has provided all we need to seek Him so spending time and attention in His word is a must with regard to the matter of priority for His word confronts wrong directions and provides godly values in line with Godís kingdom.

 

Godís word is the road map to His kingdom. 

 

Without it you will not find the way.

 

Now the first chapter of Malachi concludes with this verse

 

Malachi 1:14, 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.

 

In the New American Standard version the word ďdeceiverĒ is translated as ďswindlerĒ so here in this verse we are given to confront a double minded man who declares one thing and does another. 

 

God in one word addresses his end for He declares him to be cursed, a word that means: devoted to destruction

 

Think about that, a person who is devoted to destruction.

 

It is easy to see that most people of the earth fit into this category for without Christ a person is devoted to destruction.

 

They devote themselves to walk a path of life on which only one destination is possible and that is to the great abyss of the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.  

 

There is no alternative to such devotion.

 

So in this verse God brings us to think about motive, why do you do what you do.

 

Here we have a person, known to all as a religious man, a man who faithfully brings to the Lordís table a sacrifice vowing that the sacrifice is a pure animal, an unblemished lamb, a healthy male fit to be sacrificed on the altar of the Lord.

 

He appears to all a man of God, a religious man, a godly man, but to God he is simply a swindler, a deceiver. 

 

We know the outside and relate to each other based on the outside but God knows the heart. 

 

Perhaps this man would have been chosen by the temple authorities as benefactor of the year but God calls him a swindler. 

 

He covets menís attention and vows that the animal he brings is fit for sacrifice all the while knowing the hidden blemish, perhaps a weakness in the animal no others could see.

 

He had no thought of pleasing God with his sacrifice. 

 

He only desired the praise of men for with the motive of a swindler he brings what looks outwardly a pure lamb but inwardly full of blemish. 

 

Ironically he is displaying himself in this lamb, pure on the outside but within full of wickedness. 

 

He is like the whited sepulcher, a vision to behold on the outside but within full of dead menís bones.

 

He paid no attention to a God who saw his heart, a God he could not see, for his mind was interested only in the attention of those that he could see.

 

Doctor Luke in the great book called the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5 wrote of such a man, a man named Ananias who along with his wife Sapphria sold a possession.

 

Now it is inferred in this account that he advertised to others that he received a certain amount for this possession, an amount less than he actually received and that all of the proceeds would be given to the Lordís work.

 

Luke tells us that he kept back part of the price, his wife also being in on the deception.

 

So pretending to be a humble giver, a giver of all, he laid the proceeds at the apostlesí feet

 

But the proceeds did not match the giverís promise.

 

There was a lack held back by Ananias, and known by his wife Sapphria who desired a newly renovated kitchen perhaps or a trip to see the grandchildren.

 

Now Peter somehow, either through the power of the Holy Spirit or perhaps he knew the buyer of the possession, (be sure your sins will find you out) did not let this sin fade away for he confronted Ananias.

 

How many preachers of today would confront such a generous giver, desiring instead to overlook such a small misdeed. 

 

But Peter saw it not as a small misdeed for he was concerned about a manís lying to God.

 

And Peter, as recorded in chapter 5 of Acts, challenged Ananias:

 

Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

 

There is indeed nothing new under the sun for what Ananias and Sapphira did was simply to plant the seed in the early church that continues to sprout in the hearts of many who give with impure motives.

 

Yes, we sold the land for this amount and this amount is what will go in the coffers of the church. 

 

Yes, what they said took place but what they hid was the true sale of the land that they might keep a part back for their own use. 

 

Nothing wrong with that except the lie that they told God.

 

Their whole scheme to give to the Lordís work out of a hidden motive of gaining praise and notice from men was dishonoring to God.

 

Our Bible warning is clear throughout for remember what Jesus said in:

 

Matthew 6-4, Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

 

The world operates with show. 

 

Giving is given with celebration. 

 

Giving is open and known that the praise of men is gained.

 

Glory is sought, personal glory that standing before men is enlarged. 

 

This is the way of the world but this is not the way of Christ.

 

We are to love not the world, neither the things of the world and that includes the world system, in the matter of giving.

 

We are saved to bring God glory among the nations. 

 

We certainly can do only a small part but that small part is to honor Him by obeying His word and seeking first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Give of your best to the Master;

Give Him first place in your heart.

Give Him first place in your service;

Consecrate every part.