In Malachi 1, the LORD tells the priests that they have made His name contemptible: “But you ask, “Wherewith have we made your name contemptible?”” (V. 6). The priests were not even aware of what they were doing. The same is true for us today: “Lord, You say we despise Your name, but yet every Sunday when we come together, it seems that we honor Your name.” But that’s only on Sunday – and maybe we don’t even honor God on Sunday because we only come to the assembly out of habit: “Oh, it’s Sunday, and I have to go to the church assembly.” But from Monday to Saturday, we do whatever we want. You may think that God does not know what you are doing and that you can deceive Him. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 15:8: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
The Priests Despise the Lord’s Table
The priests asked, “With what have we brought Your name into contempt?” The Lord answered, “With this, that you offer defiled bread on My altar! But you ask, “With what have we defiled You”? “So that you say, “The table of the LORD is contemptible!” (Mal. 1:7). In their hearts, the priests despised the Lord’s Table. The church meeting may go 1-2 hours and you keep looking at the clock. And then when the meeting lasts two hours, you groan, “Oh, how much longer?” Many Christians do this and thereby despise the Lord’s Table. You are participating at His table, but you don’t even know what you are eating and drinking. Read 1 Corinthians 11 again. The Lord was very angry with the church at Corinth, because when they came to the Lord’s table, they took their own meal and the Lord’s table at the same time! The Lord said that they ate and drank themselves to judgment (cf. 1 Cor. 11:29). Because of this, many of them were sick and some even died. The Lord would rather someone shut the doors of the meeting hall so that they could no longer keep the Lord’s Table (cf. Mal. 1:10), for it is better not to keep the Lord’s Table at all than to keep it as they did! Remember that we are dealing with the great living God.
“And when you bring a blind animal as sacrifice, is that not evil?” (Mal. 1:8a). In Genesis 2, 3, and 5, God requires that every sacrifice offered to Him be without blemish. You shall not bring Him a lamb that is missing an ear or a foot, or a sick lamb that you yourself would not eat or raise. The Lord said, “If you offer a blind animal for sacrifice” – even if it is blind in only one eye, it is defective – “is that not evil?” It is evil in the eyes of God because this animal sacrifice represents Christ, and Christ is perfect. He is the Lamb without blemish; in Him there is no sin. Our Lord is perfect, so how can you offer something that is not perfect to God? God will never accept it. He is God. “And if you offer one that is lame or sick, is that also not evil? Why don’t you take it to your governor? Will he take pleasure in you or regard you kindly? says the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 1:8b). The Lord speaks in our language – in a language that everyone can understand.
“And now, nevertheless, appease the face of God, that He may be gracious to us! Will He, because such a thing is done by your hand, regard any of you kindly? says the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 1:9). When the Lord was on this earth, He knew that the Father listened to Him and answered His prayers because He always did what was pleasing to the Father (cf. John 8:29). Suppose you always do things that are not pleasing to the Father, and suddenly you need Him and ask, “Lord, help me! Do this for me!” Then He will answer you, “I have spoken to you so many times, but you have not listened to Me! And now, when you need something, you come to Me?” No wonder God often says “no” when we ask Him for something.
God’s Indignation of the Priests Degrading Behavior
“If only one of you would close the two gates.” The Lord would prefer that the door of the meeting hall-or of His temple at that time-be closed, “…lest you kindle fire on My altar in vain!” (Mal. 1:10a). In this situation, whatever we would do for God would be in vain because God would not accept it. For example, if you got engaged and gave your fiancée a fake diamond, she would break off the engagement. We must give God what is due to Him, something real. Don’t just bring Him anything “at the last minute”; He won’t accept it.
“I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 1:10b). God only has pleasure in His beloved Son. God the Father says several times, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; 2 Pet. 1:17). If we bring anything other than His Son as an offering to God our Father, He will not take pleasure in it. We need to know what makes God happy. It is not easy to practice the priesthood. But now it is time for us to really know what God is asking of us. God says very clearly, “and the offering that comes from your hands is not pleasing to Me!” (Mal. 1:10c). Even the food for a dog must be prepared; the dog will not want to eat paper dipped in soy sauce because it is not real food. And we offer a sacrifice to God. Do you think God does not know what we are offering Him? So don’t bring just anything, but prepare it carefully! Therefore, take the recommendation in Song 495 seriously: “May the Spirit teach us daily to prepare the sacrifices.” We need preparation for our offerings!