Charges from An Upset God, Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper
Messages from Malachi
Malachi 1:6-8 (NKJV)
6 “A son honors hisfather, And a servant hismaster. If then I am the Father, Where isMy honor? And if I ama Master, Where isMy reverence? Says the LORDof hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’
7 “Youoffer defiled food on My altar. But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the LORDis contemptible.’
8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is itnot evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is itnot evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORDof hosts.
May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.
We are returning to our studies through the prophetic book of Malachi.
You may or may not be familiar with this book but for many who have been in and around the church for some time, you’ve often heard it referred to mostly as part of a sermon or talk on issues related to finance and giving.
The book of Malachi is a message from God to the people of Israel, concerning several matters of “upsetness” or complaint that God had against his people.
These words were written, to the people of God, because they were a back- sliden people, who had become cold, cynical, disobedient and dishonoring of God.
In our 1stsermon from this book, we looked at and learned about the concerns or “upsetness” of God as it related to the fact that God’s people were doubting him.
They doubted his word. They doubted his LOVE and they ignored the blessing and the honor that he had bestowed upon them in choosing them to be his people.
Doubting God of course causes major problems and when it happens within the hearts of God’s people it is dangerous.
When you doubt God’s word, then your faith begins to wane.
When you doubt God’s love, you will begin to withdraw your affection from him.
When you doubt God, you will become cold and forgetful regarding the incredibleness of his grace AND then your entire relationship and connection with God can start to unravel.
If you missed the sermon, I highly encourage you to check in out on-line on our you-tube channel, at mysccf.com/sermons.
Today we are going to look at and examine the second area of complaint as noted by the prophet Malachi, having to do with the issue of God being dishonored.
We read just a few versus of a rather lengthy portion of the study passage we will be delving into together in just a few minutes, but the words that we read are helpful in setting the stage.
God was upset with the nation of Israel because of the attitudes and actions of the priestly leaders and the peoplewho were dishonoring of his Name and Reputation.
The people were bringing reproach and disrespect upon the name of the Lord, as reflected in the way that they related to him.
In verse number 6 which we read together a moment ago, God opens his complaint by asking the people a powerfully penetrating questionand here is what he said.
6 “A son honors hisfather, And a servant hismaster. If then I am the Father, Where isMy honor? And if I ama Master, where isMy reverence? Says the LORDof hosts
A more modern way of saying that would be to ask “where are my props”
Yo, where is my respect.
You are my kids and I am your Father. I am the master, you are the servant, so where is my respect.
Here in this portion of the letter, we want to listen to and embrace God’s words and to examine ourselves.
Not because He is writing to chastise us personally or corporately, but rather as the scriptures says in 1stCorinthians 10:11, “that these things are written for our admonishment”
So, if you are ready to go forward say AMEN.
God was upset with the nation of Israel because they were…
- Defiling the Lord’s altar by offering imperfect sacrifices.
Malachi 1:7a (NKJV)
7 “You offer defiled food on My altar.
Malachi 1:8 (NLT)
8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORDof Heaven’s Armies.
Malachi 1:12-13 (NLT)
12a “But you dishonor my name with your actions
13b-c “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the LORD.
Leviticus 22:20 (KJV)
20 Butwhatsoever hath a blemish, thatshall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.
Here the Lord addresses an area of his “upsetness”, that can only be described as extreme disrespect and dishonor.
Rather than bringing the best of their flocksand presenting those things to God as an offering, they were taking the animals that no one else would want.
They were using the Levitical system of worship and sacrifice to cull their herds of unwanted live-stock and in doing that, they were trying to run a scam on God.
It would be like people often do today, where they have a garage that is full of some junk and rather than pay to have the junk man pick it up, they drive it over to the goodwill and drop it off, even though they know that it is worthless trash.
Now think about this within the context of how the Jewish sacrificial system was set up and how it was supposed to function in reference to SIN offerings.
If you were a Jewish person at that time; there was a procedure that was set in place in order to deal with issues of sin and or offense that a person might commit against God.
When a person committed an offense, they would bring an animal to the priest who would present that animal as an atoning sacrifice.
The life of that lamb or goat or sheep would serve to make amends or reparation for the offense or crime.
So, understand very clearly, that the issue of offering an animal as an atoning gift or offering to God, was very serious.
The person was coming to a HOLY and perfect God.
And they were presenting an offering that was supposed to reflect the honor and respect that is due God, by giving to the perfect God, the best offering that you had, because you as an imperfect sinner were coming to God.
Imagine if you brought your child a birthday present; and you gave him a dog that was deformed or a cat that had three legs and couldn’t walk.
Imagine if you gave your child a broken toy, as a gift for his or her birthday, even though you had the ability to buy the child a decent present; you instead chose to give him or her a piece of junk.
The people were offering lame and deformed animals.
They were trying to play with God. They were running a scam on the Holy one; they were offering him NOT the best, but instead they reserved the best for themselves.
The people were dishonoring God and that was bad enough; but even worse the priest was accepting it.
The priest knew the requirements that were outlined in the law; we read that a moment ago from Leviticus chapter 22:20 and I quote “Butwhatsoever hath a blemish, thatshall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you
This first point has a word of challenge to us as Christians and to me personally as a Pastor.
As Christians, we need to more respectful and mindful of giving God our absolute best.
I’m not going to talk about finances and all that, because that is going to be covered an upcoming sermon.
But here in this point, we should consider what God is saying to us, about giving HIM the best and about honoring him in a way that is reflective of who he is as God our Father
If then I am the Father, where isMy honor? And if I ama Master, where isMy reverence.
He ought to come first. We ought to give him the first fruits of our time, tools and resources; not giving him the left over, or whatever we can manage to come up with after we’ve addressed our own needs and desires, but he should be honored in the way that God deserves.
We ought to hear that word AND as a challenge to US as Christians.
There was also a challenge to me personally and I will share it with you.
Apparently, the priest was just ignoring what they knew to be disrespectful offerings and they were taking these animals.
Maybe they accepted these animals because getting something that was lame was better than nothing.
After all, a portion of what was given within the sacrificial system, was used to provide food for the priest.
So rather than upsetting the people by telling them to truth about why they ought not bring these animals to the Lord, they compromised and accepted what they knew to be less than what God deserved.
This word speaks very powerfully to me and it convicts me, it tells ME that it is NOT ok to just turn a blind eye when we know that people are NOT giving God their best.
The priest was guilty of double sin, because it was their job to correct and to exhort and to encourage the people to give God the honor and respect he deserves.
I don’t want to be guilty before God, of enabling and excusing the failure of people to bring God their best.
I’ll be held accountable. I’ll be called to answer for it. I’ll have to explain WHY, I didn’t correct error when that is what a leader and a minister must do.
So, to those of us who preach and teach; the call and the challenge to us, is to tell folks that they need to do better and to honor God with their best.
Don’t just smile when you see that someone is giving God their left overs; don’t think that it’s ok, just because they showed up and threw God a few crumbs.
Teach people to give God the honor that he is due.
God was upset with the nation of Israel because they were…
- Playing with God and ignoring HIS holy Nature:
Malachi 1:9b-10c (NKJV)
9 b “Whilethis is being doneby your hands, Will He accept you favorably?” Says the LORDof hosts.
10c “I have no pleasure in you,” Says the LORDof hosts, “Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.
Malachi 1:9 (MSG)
9 “Get on your knees and pray that I will be gracious to you. You priests have gotten everyone in trouble. With this kind of conduct, do you think I’ll pay attention to you?”
Malachi 1:10 (NLT)
10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORDof Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.
1 Chronicles 29:11 (NKJV)
11 Yours, O LORD, isthe greatness, the power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that isin heaven and in earth is Yours;Yours isthe kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all.
For this second point, I brought together a number of different translations in order to help us understand the complexity of the issues that the Lord is dealing with here.
God is communicating with the people of Israel through the prophet Malachi, regarding the fact that he is upset because the people were dishonoring him by expecting HIM to hear their prayers and accept them, in spite of the fact that they were ignoring HIS holy nature, by reason of their phony and hypocritical worship.
Remember now and don’t miss the point that they were brining God broken animals.
They were presenting him with flawed gifts.
They were treating, the God who sat on the throne and who ruled all of heaven and earth, as though he were nothing but a worthless THING
The word says“ Yours, O LORD, isthe greatness, the power and the glory You are exalted as head over all”…but the peoplewere not treating God in the way that reflected his exalted position and power.
God was so upset that he declared through the prophet and I quote “I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors”
Don’t even waste your time, putting fire on the altar, shut it down and cancel that phony worship service.
When I read and studied through this and considered the thoughts and commentaries being shared on this passage, I was like WOW, God was so upset that he said, don’t even bother opening up the temple.
In my office as I was writing, I sat there for a moment and then the thought occurred to me as a question and here is it……
I wonder if God ever feels that way about the modern church today ?
Does God ever feel like saying…shut it down, stop having service.
Stop praying and asking me for things and expecting me to hear your prayers, when you haven’t honored me with a sacrificial life, that reflects the reverence of who I am as God.
Stop coming in with your name it and claim it declarations, because I am looking at your lives and I see that there is a dishonoring disconnect.
You put me last. You give me the leftovers and the broken and the lame.
Your kids, your JOB, these are your priorities on your list and I’m lastsays the Lord of heaven’s armies
Yet here we come with our request agenda.
Coming to God with the expectation that he will hear our prayers WHILE there is dishonor in the closet.
The people of Israel were playing with God, giving him junk, treating him with disrespect, still coming to the temple, still having service and still expecting that God would hear their prayers and accept them favorably.
God was upset with the nation of Israel because they were…
- Ignoring his “God-ness”
Malachi 1:11-12a (NKJV)
11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall begreat among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall beoffered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the LORDof hosts.
12 “But you profane it,
Isaiah 45:5-7 (NKJV)
5 I amthe LORD, and there isno other; There isno God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there isnone besides Me. I amthe LORD, and there isno other;
7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’
Jeremiah 10:7 (NKJV)
7 Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.
Psalm 113:3 (NKJV)
3 From the rising of the sun to its going down The LORD’Sname isto be praised.
Malachi 1:11-12 (Message Translation)
“11 “I am honored all over the world. And there are people who know how to worship me all over the world, who honor me by bringing their best to me. They’re saying it everywhere: ‘God is greater, this GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.’
12 “All except you. Instead of honoring me, you profane me. You profane me when you say, ‘Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account,’
This third point is somewhat related to the second, but the prophet here accesses a statement of prophetic declaration regarding the glory and honor of God as written in Psalm 113:3 which we read together just a moment ago.
Malachi 1:11-12 was expressing God’s tremendous “upsetness” and he says and I quote…“11 “I am honored all over the world. And there are people who know how to worship me all over the world, who honor me by bringing their best to me.
12 “All except you. Instead of honoring me, you profane me.
“You profane me when you say, ‘Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account”
Now the word profanity of course is most associated cursing or using foul language.
The word profane in this context is used to express the idea that the actions of the children of Israel in terms of them offering blemished and unwanted animals, communicated a type of vulgarity and irreverence towards God.
This was completely opposite of what the people of God were chosen to do.
God chose them not because they were more numerous or better than other folks but rather he chose them to be the objects and the living proof of the love, grace and mercy.
He chose them to be the evidence of a HOLY God who was invisible to the rest of the world, but yet could be seen as evidenced and the lives and worship and practices of HIS oracle people.
In other words, they were to be living testimonies of the invisible God, through whom God’s……….. “GOD-NESS” was proclaimed.
This was their calling, but instead their impious and irreverent actionscommunicated to the world that “’Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account, because God isn’t really all that.
Now the message and the application to us is this and make sure you don’t miss the point.
You see how we live our lives of worship; how we present ourselves as living sacrifices; is a message that we communicate to the world of the existence of the unseen God.
It matters when the world sees that we as believers will marginalize our God for the sake of our job, or children, or material goods or some relationship.
It matters when the world sees that God doesn’t get our best, but rather he gets the junk and he is last.
It matters when they see that Christians PLACE SUNDAY MORNNG WORSHIP at the bottom of their list, because it says that worship isn’t that important
Putting HIM first sends a message also:
Putting HIM first speaks to the world of the unseen God and the blessedness of HIM who has called us into his wonderful family.
Putting HIM first and giving him our best sends a message:
The lives we live and the sacrifices we bring must always proclaim and acknowledge HIS “GOD-NESS”
God was upset with the nation of Israel 4THfinally because they were…
- Cheating God
Malachi 1:14 (NKJV)
14 “But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow,But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished–For I am a great King,”Says the LORD of hosts,”And My name is to be feared among the nations.
Malachi 1:14 God’s Word@ Translation
Cheaters are under a curse. They have male animals in their flocks that they vow to give [as a sacrifice]. But they sacrifice second-rate ones to the Lord instead. I am a great king,” says the LORD of Armies. “Among the nations my name is respected.
Ecclesiastes 5:5-6 (NLT)
5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.
6a Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.
Psalm 50:10-12 (NKJV)
10 For every beast of the forest isMine, Andthe cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field areMine.
12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world isMine, and all its fullness.
This 4thand final point again discusses and dissects the actions of the people of Israel and the “upsetness” of God, as it related to the fact that they were bringing lame and crippled animals to God and offering him the junk.
We talked about that in point number one; here God expresses a level of displeasure because of a different motive that he saw in the hearts of the people.
In the Jewish system of that day, there would be people who would make a vow or promise before the Lord, that they would give something or donate something to God.
In today’s world for example, a person might fill out a pledge card during a building fund campaign and they would promise a charity or an organization or a even a church, that they would donate a car or a boat, or a house or a cash gift of one sort or another. This would be a modern example of making a pledge or taking a vow or giving your word that you were going to fulfill a promise.
So here in the passage we are looking at, God was saying to Israel, that when it comes to the matter of promises or vows or pledges that you have made to me, you are dishonoring ME and I am upset with you, because you are cheating.
Now listen again to Malachi chapter 1:14 as I quote part of the passage which says
“But cursed bethe deceiver Who has in his flock a male,and takes a vow,but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.
Apparently, a person would promise to sacrifice a healthy MALE RAM from their flock, but when it came time to fulfill their pledge, they would come up short and instead present God with one of the blemished sheep.
They promised God and they lied. They broke their word and they attempted to cheat God himself.
Remember what we already read from Leviticus 22: 20 and I quote “But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer.
They promised God one thing and then tried to pull a switch up on God.
God was so offended that he declared such a person to be cursed.
Now don’t miss this because it’s important.
God owns everything. The world and all its fulness are HIS
God owns everything and he did not need what the person had promised per se.
But he identifies the disrespect of him in their actions where they tried to do a switch up on him, as an act of cheating.
No body forced them to make a vow before the Lord, in fact the Solomon the wisest man to ever live said and I quote….5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.
6a Don’t let your mouth make you sin; That would make God angry, (that would make him upset that might cause him) to wipe out everything you have achieved.
God does NOT need it; BUT that is NOT the point.
The issue is the lack of respect and dishonor honor that NOT giving it, represents.
The children of Israel were bringing curses upon themselves because they were showing him disrespect, by presuming that they could cheat the very God who had given them that sheep or goat or bull.
As we come the a close, I am very aware that the book of Malachi book is not a feel-good book.
More than likely there won’t be a stampede for DVD copies of today’s message.
But as God’s children and those whom he loves we must embrace even a challenging message as a gift as the scriptures says in 1stCorinthians 10:11, “that these things are written for our admonishment”
God wants us to be closer to him.
He wants to eliminate and stamp out the things and pressures of the flesh and of the world, that would hinder our relationship with him.
And so, he sends us, the necessary medicine and spiritual nourishment to help us grow in HIM.
He sends us a message through the mistakes of the nation of Israel, so that we would be careful not to do the same thing.
He redirects us, so that we as his people may function and flow in the blessings of his will, exhorting us to be all that God wants us to be.
Today, we’ve shared a sermon on the issue of God being upset with HIS people because they were treating him disrespectfully.
Now of course we know that God was upset, but the key here, is that he still considered the people to be HIS people.
God was writing to them through the prophet Malachi in order to bring the people to a place of repentanceand to bring them back into a relationship of closeness and intimacy with him.
Today God is still calling people into relationship with him, through his beloved Son Jesus the Christ.
That is how those of us who are born again believers came into the family of God, we were called and chosen to be in HIS family through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
And because of that, we have peace with God and the assurance of salvation and a home with him when our lives end here on this earth.
How about you ?
Can you say the same.?
Do you know the blessedness of a relationship of peace with God the Father, through Jesus Christ as Lord of your life ?
If you died tonight and every person here is a candidate for death, do you know 100% that you’d be in peace with God in heaven, through Jesus Christ His son.
Now if the answer is well I am a good person, hold on for a moment because your goodness can never be good enough for God.
No, you need the covering of Christ Jesus, who died on the cross to save you from your sins, and the cleaning power of his shed blood for you.
That is what you need and that is what will save you.
While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed….