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Saturday, July 13, 2013

God Asks a Question. Where is My Honor?

God Asks a Question

“Where is My Honor?”

from the book of Malachi





Malachi was the last of a long line of Old Testament prophets who gave God’s messages to the people of Israel.  Over a period of a thousand years each of these Jewish prophets lived and foretold the coming of the Just One – Jesus Christ and then died and some years later God would raise up another prophet with the same message. The Jewish people accepted and acknowledged that God spoke to them through these prophets even though the prophets were not popular and their words were often ignored.


The year is approximately 450 B.C. and God is upset and angry.  Angry at the priests and upset with the people.  He loves his children, the Jews, so much, but now they make fun of Him and don’t even try to obey His laws. He is hurt. It wasn’t supposed to be this way!


God speaks this message through his prophet Malachi: “My children, I have loved you so much.” The priests ask: “How has God loved us?”  (Malachi 1:2a)  The priests don’t even believe that God loves them!  Everything they have has been given to them by God but they don’t acknowledge that.


 God answers them with an example.  He tells them that they can look at the people of Edom and compare themselves with them.  Actually the tribe of Edom finally lost their land and their identity and became part of another ancient tribe. God did not bless them and hold them together like He had the nation of Israel.  


The people of Edom were the descendants of Esau and God speaks through Malachi and says that Edom was “The Territory of Wickedness”. (Malachi 1:3b)  We don’t know all that Edom did to displease God but we do know that they were a fierce enemy of Israel.  Because of Edom’s wickedness God had not protected the tribe from its’ enemies so that it could thrive and grow into a budding nation.  And because the people of Israel tried to follow God’s ways, He had protected them and held them in his hands and blessed their crops and their lives. Did the Jewish priests forget to give God the credit for their land and their nation?   


Scripture says that Esau, the father of the people of Edom, was a profane person who was a fornicator.  (Heb.12:16)   Esau’s famous grandfather was Abraham and Esau’s father was Isaac so Esau had grown up learning about God and knowing that he was in line for a wonderful spiritual blessing since he was Isaacs’ first born son.


 But Esau didn’t much care about God or His blessing and he wasn’t interested in obeying God even though he had been brought up by God fearing parents. He sold his birthright and God’s blessing for a bowl of beans to his brother, Jacob and laughed about it.  (Genesis 15:29-34)


 We know that Esau was wild and threatened to murder his brother Jacob after Jacob took his blessing. Jacob was so afraid of Esau that he had to run away from his home. Esau also married several wives who worshipped idols.  Their heathen lifestyle upset Rebecca, Esau’s mother.  She said that she was “weary of her life” because of these wives and their ways.  We don’t know the whole story but it seems that Esau never took God seriously and didn’t much care.  


When God sent Malachi as a prophet to the Jewish people in 450 B.C., many of the the Jewish people were not taking God seriously either. God had more to say to the Jewish priests and Malachi gave them His message.  “But a son honors his father and a servant his master.  If then I am your Father, where is My honor?  Where is My reverence?... you priests have despised My name….” (Malachi 1:6)


How have we despised God?, the priests asked!  Don’t we go through the motions of bringing offerings to God?  Isn’t that good enough even though we are bored with the job and think it is a stupid burden.  We are using our position as priests to take advantage of the people   – charge high prices to the poor for offerings.  But we feel we have to play this religious game -what more does God want?  


Scripture says that the priests call the Lord’s Table “contemptible and defiled”. (Malachi 1:12)  The people are allowed to bring in diseased animals for sacrifices.  The priests’ teachings have caused many of the Jewish people to stumble.  (Malachi 2:8)  They didn’t pray for their people, which was the duty of a priest. These religious leaders tell the people that what is evil is good.  And they criticize God to the people by questioning His justice.  (Malachi 2:17)  It would seem that the religious leaders in Malachi’s day were treating God the way Esau did – with contempt and disdain.  


Completely frustrated and hurt God answers: “Oh that one of you would shut the temple doors so that you would not light useless fires on My altar!  I have no pleasure with you and I will not accept your offerings any longer!”  (Malachi 1:10) Better no sacrifices at all than ones offered without love! 


God the Father had once been so proud of his children –Not so long ago the Jewish nation had leaned on Him and loved Him and tried to follow His laws. They had given Him such pleasure and He had hoped that they would have pleasure in being with Him also.


 But now instead they grumble that worshipping Him in the temple with prayers and sacrifices is a burden. What does a parent do when year after year a grown up child constantly makes fun of them and humiliates them and finds them a bore to be with?  Better to shut the temple doors than to be slandered by your own children.


Honor and respect are very important to God.  Four of the Ten Commandments are about honor.  (Exodus 20:3-12) The first commandment commands us to honor God by putting Him first – having no other gods before Him.  The second commandment commands us  not to have idols – all of our honor and worship should go to God and nothing else.  The third commandment commands us not to dishonor or disrespect the name of the Lord.  And the fifth commandment commands us to “Honor your father and your mother,…”


These Ten Commandments have not changed.  Even though we live in modern times and our lifestyles are more casual than those in ancient times, God still waits for his people to love and honor Him.  And He still expects children to honor their parents and people to respect one another.


 God put the world together and He knows what it takes to make it run.  Honor and respect and love are still up there on top keeping things going.  Let’s not make the same mistakes the Jewish priests did in Malachi’s day.  Let’s be the kind of children that God can take pleasure in by loving and honoring God in everything that we do.


















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