Offering God The Leftovers
Friday, January 20th, 2017
“…cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished-I am a great King,” says the Lord of hosts, “My Name is to be feared among the nations. Mal 1:14
The Lord is “a great King” and His Name is feared among the nations. Surely nobody would dare to serve God leftovers, would they? Yes, says Malachi, “they would.” The priests of his day were doing just that. The people would bring an unblemished lamb to offer as a sacrifice at the temple. The priests would reason “it doesn’t make sense to slaughter the perfectly good lamb. After all, it’s just going to be burned on the altar. Let’s sell it for a decent price and substitute a slightly blemished lamb that is cheaper. The priests would say, “don’t worry about it.” It was sick so we couldn’t risk eating it. It is just going up in smoke anyway. Sacrificing it helps you get rid of an animal that you have no need and it helps in keeping the fire burning on the altar. Everyone wins! Everyone except God, that is !!
Through Mal 1:6-14, the Lord confronts the priests for despising His Name. However, the priests didn’t get it!
The priests felt it make better sense to burn the defect animal and save the good ones. We are not rich people. The Lord understands our situation, doesn’t He? Better to offer blemished animal than none at all, isn’t it? They were trying to make worship more convenient and affordable for the worshippers. God said, “you are dishonoring Me!”
We live in a day of convenience Christianity. The church is being marketed like a restaurant or store in an attempt to attract more customers. Pastors flock to seminars that share methods on how to attract unchurched people. Don’t preach against sin because that intimidates people. They want to feel good about themselves. Give them something positive and uplifting. They are used to watching TV. So use a lot of drama and visuals. Keep the sermon short – 15-20 minutes maximum. Make it entertaining!
Through this passage, the Lord of Hosts has something to say to the modern church. In Mal 1:10, the Lord says it would be better to close the doors of the church than to dishonor Him when we meet. The core message that the church proclaims is the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
The Gospel is about how sinners are perfectly delivered from their sins by Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection in order to be reconciled to a holy God. If we modify message to appeal the consumers, we are, in effect, offering blemished sacrifices.
The modern “gospel” often is pitched as a way to personal fulfillment and happiness.
Our text revealed three aspects of giving our best and not the leftovers.
- We Should Give God The Best In Terms of Cost
Salvation is a free gift. We cannot earn it or pay for it. We can only accept it freely though it costs God His Own Son. Once we accept such a precious gift, it demands everything we have in response. When we recognize that we are not our own, we are bought with a price and that all that we have has been freely given to us by God, how can we hold back anything from Him. Our gift reveals our estimate of the one to whom we offer it. We only honor God when we give Him our best in terms of cost.
- We Should Give God The Best In Terms of Quality
The Lord only wants unblemished lambs on His altar. If it is a reject, it isn’t good enough for the Lord. He sarcastically asked, “would you give a junk to your governor?” Do you think that you could honor the Lord with that junk?
- We Should Give God The Best In Terms of Priorities
God’s Word was not the priority for these priests or for the people. They had better ways to use unblemished lamb than to put them on God’s altar. God had said that they should honor Him above all else by their worship. God’s priority was not their priority. By showing contempt for that which God valued, they were showing contempt for God Himself. Are we valuing with our life what God values. Do our priority – the way we spend our time, money and efforts reflect the things that matter most to God. Am I seeking first God’s Kingdom and righteousness in my personal life, my career, my family and my spare time activities?
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