Preparing the Way for Messiah
While addressing the fact that the men had chosen pagan women as wives, the decisions about what to do were made by Ezra. Malachi addressed other sins being committed by the Jewish people as they return to their promised land.
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear?” says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?‘ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?‘ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised (Malachi 1:6-7 ESV).
Because of their distrust, disdain, and contempt for the LORD, the priests neglected their duty to instruct and to guide the people in how to worship, how to marry, and how to approach their God.
Through Malachi, the Holy Spirit explains more thoroughly how to honor the LORD:
“8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is not that wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is not that wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?” —says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 1:8-9 NIV).
Malachi encourages them [and us] to plead with God to be gracious to us. He has been gracious to us through the giving of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. Malachi foresees His coming.
Jesus gave His life for us. He loves us and forgives us. His work on the cross pays the penalty of our sins for us.God has been gracious to us through the giving of His One and Only Son, #JesusChrist. He gave His life for us. He loves us and forgives us. His work on the cross pays the penalty of our sins for us. #Messiah Click To Tweet
Animals which were blind, lame, or diseased were unacceptable to offer to the LORD. These were in “a ceremonial unclean state and so not acceptable as covenantal behavior…” (Malachi 1:7a, 7b+, 12+). This was because this offering was to mirror Messiah’s perfect offering of Himself for our sins.
The Lord Almighty Himself instructs the people in how to please Him, so that He may be gracious toward them. Of course, the people won’t know unless the priests pass on what God has instructed.
“Ezra’s effective ministry included teaching the Word of God, initiating reforms, restoring worship, and leading spiritual revival in Jerusalem. These reforms magnified the need for a genuine concern for reputation and for public image. What must the world think of God’s people with dilapidated city walls? What would distinguish God’s people who were guilty of intermarriage with those not in proper covenant relationship with the one true God?
Nehemiah and Ezra were then, and are now, an encouragement to God’s people to magnify worship as their top priority, to emphasize the need for and use of God’s Word as the only authoritative rule for living, and to be concerned about the honest image that God’s people show to the world.
“Ezra came back from captivity in Babylon expecting to find the people serving the Lord with gladness. But upon his return to Jerusalem, he found the opposite. He was frustrated and sorrowful. His heart ached, but he still trusted the Lord. He wanted the Lord to change the situation and blamed himself for not being able to change the people’s hearts. He wanted the people to know how important and essential the Word of God was.
“Nothing must supersede worship of God, and obedience is not optional. The sovereign God looks over and protects His children, always keeping His promises and providing encouragement through those He sends (Ezra 5:1–2). Even when His plan seems to be interrupted, as with the rebuilding of Jerusalem, God steps in at the appropriate time to continue His plan.” (source)The sovereign God looks over and protects His children, always keeping His promises and providing encouragement through those He sends, even when His plan seems to be interrupted. Click To Tweet
In addition to Ezra’s efforts, in his letter Malachi defends the reality of God’s elective love for Israel, a love which calls for robust covenant obedience and sincere worship as its response.
Again, this reminds us of the current state of the church. Are we doing the same? In what ways might we be carrying out dishonor toward God?
As a result of God’s loving plan, as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we have this promise: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
The perfection required of the offering was a foreshadowing of when Messiah would be sacrificed for us, the final necessary sacrifice.
His perfection would far excel this meat market brawl of what is clean and what is not clean, what is worthy behavior, and what most decidedly is not. They should have focused on the good that God had done for Jacob’s descendants. But they did not.
Like them, do we forget to focus on the goodness of God and of all His blessings as we see Christianity crumble in so many ways in our nation? Pray that we would turn toward Him again.
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What an amazing blessing to know how God protects us even when I fail Him. So much encouragement in your post today Melinda. May His graciousness continue all the days of our lives.
I’m much in need of perfecting, and examining these passages has been a blessing to me. I had to share. May His graciousness continue all the days of our lives, as you said, Yvonne. Amen!
May we always seek to honor God with our best efforts. Focusing on the good He’s done for us helps us have gratitude instead of an attitude of entitlement. Thanks, Melinda. God bless!
Yes, indeed! Seeking to honor Him in every way is a daily challenge. It’s easy to take His blessings for granted, and to assume that this good day just happened to be a good day. But actually, it could have gone any number of ways, for actually, we are not entitled.
Excellent piece. What strikes me about the sacrifice is about the way we honor God. As you say, “Are we doing the same? In what ways might we be carrying out dishonor toward God?” It reminds me of Cain and Abel, one brother’s proper sacrifice and the other who didn’t bring his very best. We, too, must give OUR BEST, not the leftovers. It’s like our tithes, our firstfruits… God must come first.
Tithes and first-fruits were on my mind as well. If we do these out of compunction, as if we’re forced, rather than giving with a joyful heart, then we are carrying out dishonor toward God.
So often we focus on self instead of focusing on God. Honoring God by following His commandments and sharing His love with others can truly change the world for the better. Great message Melinda.
I agree, Melissa. Your kind heart always surfaces the need to share God’s love with others. That would indeed change the world for better.
Melinda, I like how you have us reflect on the current state of the church, which includes each of us. The honoring of God, worship of Him above everything else, obedience without hesitation, and concerned with our public image-how we represent the Almighty, is of utmost importance in the life of the church and believers still today.
I just added this blog to my feed reader, great stuff. Cannot get enough!