HaShem has a few things to talk with Israel about, but first he reminds them that His love for them was never because they were the most beautiful, most numerous, or most obedient. They ask for a rationale ofHis love for them and HaShem gives it to them. It is the same rationale for us today!
"I love you," says Adonai. But you ask, "How do you show us your love?" Adonai answers, " `Esav was Ya`akov's brother. Yet I loved Ya`akov but hated `Esav.(Mal 1:2-3 CJB)
HaShem shows His love by loving us just because, as is His uncontestable prerogative as God of the universe, as he also said through Moshe:
"I will cause all my goodness to pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce the name of Adonai. Moreover, I show favor to whomever I will, and I display mercy to whomever I will.
(Exo 33:19 CJB)
Adonai didn't set his heart on you or choose you because you numbered more than any other people - on the contrary, you were the fewest of all peoples. Rather, it was because Adonai loved you, and because he wanted to keep the oath which he had sworn to your ancestors, that Adonai brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from a life of slavery under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deu 7:7-8 CJB)
"WHERE IS THE HONOR DUE TO ME?"
In prayers, HaShem is often called, "Avinu; Our Father." He is wondering where is the honor due to that name:
"A son honors his father and a servant his master. But if I'm a father, where is the honor due me? and if I'm a master, where is the respect due me? -- says Adonai-Tzva'ot to you cohanim who despise my name. (Mal 1:6 CJB)
This sounds like an earlier version of Yeshua's words:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! Didn't we prophesy in your name? Didn't we expel demons in your name? Didn't we perform many miracles in your name?' Then I will tell them to their faces, 'I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!' (Mat 7:21-23 CJB)
In judicial style, HaShem exposes the issue, asks the questions, and gives the answer.
Where is the respect due me? -- says Adonai-Tzva'ot to you cohanim who despise my name. You ask, 'How are we despising your name?' (Mal 1:6 CJB)
WAYS THAT ISRAEL DESPISED THE NAME OF HASHEM
You ask, 'How are we despising your name?' Mal 1:6 CJB)
HaShem answers the question he wishes Israel would ask:
By offering polluted food on my altar! (Mal 1:7 CJB)
It is important here to understand that although HaShem has issues with Israel despising His Name, Israel has no clue about what they are doing wrong. They apparently go through the motions of what they think is right and proper, but which is an abomination to HaShem.
It is similar to a child or a teenager showing disrespect to his parents and then wondering why they are upset at his or her behavior. As we read this text, we need to ask ourselves, "Am I really pleasing HaShem? Do I need to reevaluate what I think is right in His eyes?" Because Israel cannot ask itself that question, HaShem asks it for them in the mouth of the prophet who says through HaShem's Spirit:
'How are we polluting you?' By saying that the table of Adonai doesn't deserve respect; (Mal 1:7 CJB)
HaShem is hinting at the offerings being brought to the altar.
Israel keeps religious services and probably feels very good about themselves but with one little compromise at a time, the quality of service offered to HaShem has been devalued to a point that it means nothing. Again, we also need to reevaluate our service and offerings. HaShem gives us the details:
...so that there's nothing wrong with offering a blind animal as a sacrifice, nothing wrong with offering an animal that's lame or sick. Try offering such an animal to your governor, and see if he will be pleased with you! Would he even receive you?" asks Adonai-Tzva'ot. (Mal 1:8 CJB)
OFFERINGS THAT HASHEM REFUSES
In this passage, HaShem chides Israel for bring to the altar the animals that are lame and sick; the animals that are not worth very much, thus doing the opposite of what David said:
"I refuse to offer to Adonai my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (2Sa 24:24 CJB)
I heard it said one time, "Giving doesn't count till it hurts."
Yeshua reminds us of this principle concerning giving in the following records from Mark:
Then Yeshua sat down opposite the Temple treasury and watched the crowd as they put money into the offering-boxes. Many rich people put in large sums, but a poor widow came and put in two small coins. He called his talmidim to him and said to them, "Yes! I tell you, this poor widow has put more in the offering-box than all the others making donations. For all of them, out of their wealth, have contributed money they can easily spare; but she, out of her poverty, has given everything she had to live on." (Mar 12:41-44 CJB)
Offerings refused by HaShem:
- HaShem refused Cain's offering. We are not told why, but it seems that it insincere and even begrudging. (Gen 4:5)
- Through Samuel, HaShem refused Saul's offering because it was done out of disobedience, pride, and dishonest gain. (1 Sam 13)
- Yeshua tells us that our offerings are not acceptable unless we first make peace with our brother who has an issue with us. (Mat 5:23-24)
There is probably more, but these are some examples.
WAYS WE CAN DESPISE HASHEM'S NAME
Today, of course, we do not go to an altar to offer an animal to HaShem. We do our service in the form of teaching, leading, and serving people, dedicating daily time for devotion and study. How does this apply, then?
- When we serve, do we do it cheerfully as he serves us?
- When we teach, do we do it patiently as he teaches us?
- Do we give HaShem the prime of our time, or the leftovers, if we have any?
- Do we begrudge the menial forms of service, wishing we didn't have to do it, or do we find glory in knowing that we serve the Kingdom of God?
- Do we go above and beyond, or do we just do the minimum?
We serve HaShem as we serve His people:
- Are we proud with people or meek like the Master?
- Are we willing to take the lower seat so that they will feel elevated, just like Yeshua did ... and does with us?
- Are we willing to take the blame in order to preserve a relationship or to save the pride of another, just as Yeshua did and does with us?
These are hard things to do, but they are the gold within our soul, a gold that we put on the altar for Him.
HOW HASHEM LOOKS AT OUR UNWORTHY OFFERINGS
So if you pray now that God will show us favor, what your actions have accomplished is that Adonai-Tzva'ot asks, "Will he receive any of you? Why doesn't even one of you shut the doors and thus stop this useless lighting of fires on my altar? I take no pleasure in you," says Adonai-Tzva'ot, "and I will not receive an offering from you. (Mal 1:9-10 CJB)
Then, like Yeshua does in the parable of the Good Samaritan, HaShem tells Israel that His name is more honored by the gentiles by than by His own people.
For from farthest east to farthest west my name is great among the nations. Offerings are presented to my name everywhere, pure gifts; for my name is great among the nations," says Adonai-Tzva'ot. "But you profane it by saying that the table of Adonai is polluted, so that the fruit and food offered deserve contempt. (Mal 1:11-12 CJB)
HaShem accuses Israel of begrudgingly serving, feeling like , "Oh, it's too much work!"
You also say, 'It's all so tiresome!' and sniff scornfully at it," says Adonai-Tzva'ot. "Then you bring animals that were taken by violence, or they are lame or sick. This is the sort of offering you bring. Am I supposed to accept this from you?" asks Adonai. (Mal 1:13 CJB)
HaShem then pronounces a curse on those who minimize service to HaShem so it doesn't "cost" so much.
"Moreover, cursed is the deceiver who has a male animal in his flock that is damaged, but vows and sacrifices to Adonai anyway. For I am a great king," says Adonai-Tzva'ot, "and my name is respected among the nations. (Mal 1:14 CJB)
THE BOOK OF MALACHI
The whole Book of Malachi is a list of corrections. Could some of those be applied to us today?
- The priests who had been ordained by HaShem to lead the people in righteousness were responsible for the spiritual decay of the country. They had become debased mercenaries to such a level that the word "priest" was a contempt among the people. (Mal 2:5-7)
- Divorces were rampant because the people of Judah wanted to marry idol worshipping foreigners. (Mal 2:10-16)
- Looking at the seeming material success of idolaters and feeling there is no use in serving HaShem. (Mat 2:17)
- Israel practiced sorcery, perjury, and idolatry. (Mal 3:5)
- Israel had no regard for the plight of the poor to whom it lended money for interest, a despicable practice in the sight of God (Ps 15:5) (Mal 3:5).
- Israel robbed God as it was dishonest with its tithes. (Mal 3:8)
MAY THESE WORDS HELP US EXAMINE OUR HEARTS.
R' GABRIEL LUMBROSO