The 4th sermon in our journey through the book of Malachi, under the overall heading of – “From the ashes of failure to the anticipated future.” The practical application of the teaching will be worked out in the house groups.
We shall also be prayerfully sending the shoe boxes on the start of their journey to Eastern Europe.
How does God feel about the worship that you offer him in the Sunday service and in terms of your life style? Would he regard it as worthy of who he is and of what he has done, or as a worthless attempt of going through the motions? This is the “big issue” that Malachi tackles here – worthless or worthy worship!
Unlike the son who honours his father and the servant who respects his master, the people of Israel, and especially the priests, were not honouring and respecting God. So God accused them of despising his name. This prompted the inevitable question from the priests – “How have we shown contempt for your name?” God sets out his case beginning with a :-
1 – Rebuke.
The priests were accepting defiled food and blemished animals as the people’s sacrifices, something which God had declared to be unacceptable (Leviticus 6 v 15 & Deuteronomy 15 v 21.) They were upholding a crooked practice, condoning rather than condemning sin, and by so doing setting a poor example for the people.
Pause 4 thought – If you are a leader what is your attitude towards sin? What sort of role model are you for others?
But why did the sacrifices have to be perfect?
A – Because God deserves, not the worst, but the very best, not just of our worship, but also our time, money and talents.
B – They prefigured the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sin (1 John 2 v 2.)
Pause 4 thought – Are you giving God the very best, or is he having to make do with the left over’s?
But all was not lost because God’s response to such worthless worship was not only to rebuke, but also a call his people to:-
2 – Repent.
Such worthless worship was such a waste of time that God would have preferred to have put a “closed” sign on the doors of the temple. But all was not lost, in that he offered his people an escape route, the opportunity for transformation –“now implore God to be gracious to us.” They were to acknowledge that their worship was deeply displeasing to him, repent of their sin and worship him properly.
Pause 4 thought – Do you need to repent for offering God “junk worship?”
But if repentance was not forthcoming, then God warns of:-
3 – Rejection.
False worshippers who refuse to repent are “cheats” who will be cursed of God, in terms of being removed from the place of his blessing by being rejected in favour of other nations of faithful worshippers (Psalm 22 v 27 & Revelation 15 v 4.) For God is on the lookout for genuine worshippers (John 4 v 23) who will offer worship that is worthy of the recipient and characterised by:-
Praise – “My name will be great & feared among the nations.” Worthy worship involves praising the greatness of God’s name in awe and wonder.
Prayer – “Incense will be brought to my name.” Incense is a symbol of effective prayer (Revelation 8 v 3) ascending heavenwards, another characteristic of worship that is worthy of its object.
Purity – “Pure offerings will be brought to my name.” No longer will undefiled food and unblemished animals need to be brought; but instead worthy worship will involve purity of motive and of life.
Primacy – “For I am the great king.” Worthy worship involves bending the knee and the will to the one who is king (Psalm 24 v 10 & 1 Timothy 1 v 17) and who demands our primary allegiance.
Pause 4 thought – Is your worship characterised by such elements?
Theme: “Worthless or worthy worship?”
Reading: Malachi 1 v 6 – 14
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Robin Brenchley