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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