Malachi 1:14 (HCSB)
14 “The deceiver is cursed who has an acceptable male in his flock and makes a vow but sacrifices a defective animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,” says Yahweh of Hosts, “and My name will be feared among the nations.
This pericope is about the empty worship of the priests. And, not to get sidetracked too much, this has major implications for all of Israel at the time, since the priests were the intermediaries of sorts for the people of Israel and God. The priests handled the sacrifices, and when they shorted God, their sin impacted more than just themselves.
God asks a pretty simple question: “If you say I am God, why don’t you worship me as God?” The response of the priests is to ask how they have not worshipped God. And God proceeds to tell them. In essence, there is a lack of fear, of reverence, for God. The priests are skimping, they are withholding what is due God. Ultimately they are placing themselves above God.
Some interesting things to think about in this passage:
- In Malachi 1:8, God basically says the priests fear, or worship, the governor more than Him. He points out, in a rhetorical fashion, that the priests wouldn’t think of bringing a blind, lame, or sick animal to the governor because he would not be pleased. Yet this is what they are doing with God! So the priests have a higher regard for the governor, a man that God has created and put in place, than the Creator and Orchestrator.
- Malachi 1:10 has God saying He wishes the priests would just stop making useless sacrifices. It’s not because He is bored with them, or they annoy Him like repetitive annoying sounds might do to us, but it is because He is not wanting these pointless deaths. God isn’t about stuff being killed, He is about people being restored back to life. A sacrifice is not about ending life, it’s about giving life. So God does not want pointless sacrifice when the hearts of the priests are not in the right place.
- “Look, what a nuisance!” (Malachi 1:13) Hmm. Is this a similar thought we have when God’s plans, rules, or ways don’t match up with ours? What a bold and self-important thing to say about anything having to do with worshipping God! We ought to take stock of our direction and trajectory of our walk with God when we start finding proper worship of Him annoying or in the way of our goals and desires.
I think Malachi 1:14 captures the essence of the entire pericope: whoever keeps for himself what is rightfully God’s, is cursed. This is what the priests did, this is what we do. Perhaps we do not do it with our goats and cows, but we do it with our money, or time, or mind, or heart, our fill-in-the-blank. God doesn’t want us to be miserable and over-burdened, but He also knows what truly fulfills us, according to His design, and at least part of that fulfillment is worship of Him… we should not skimp.
Lord, thank You for designing us in such a way that we can be fulfilled. You know what it is we need, and worshipping You is part of that. Help us to toss aside the things that we put in between ourselves in You. Destroy those things we cling to rather than grabbing hold of You. Help us to worship and glorify You above all things, especially ourselves. Amen.