Malachi 1:6–2:16 What? You Don’t Like My Offering?
Malachi 2:10–17. Why Don't You Accept My Offering?
Key Notes: Five reasons for failed offerings. Does the offerer make a difference? Old Testament vs. New Testament offerings.
The words offering and sacrifice are used repeatedly (10 times) and form the theme of this part of Malachi. There are five reasons why the offerings were not acceptable.
1:6–12 The animals offered in sacrifice were poor stock (crippled, mangey, scrawny). They were an insult to God and could not be offered to any public official. God is greater than any public official and His name is honored everywhere in the world.
1:13–14 The worshipper was bored and sniffed annoyance at God.
2:1–9 The priests should have been monitoring the sacrifices and preventing abuses. They were not listening to the Lord. They should have been good guides and judges, but they caused people to stumble with partial truth. Their punishment will be severe.
2:10–13 The offering was refused because the worshipper had profaned the sanctuary, and had not kept the covenant to honor God by marrying a pagan.
2:11 "...married the daughter of a foreign god" was a problem that plagued Ezra ( 9:1–10:15) and Nehemiah (13:23–29) years before. This was not an ethnic issue, a question of marrying non-Jews. This was a spiritual question-- marriages with pagan women. There were a few examples of supposedly godly marriages between Israelites and their neighbors.
Moses married a Midianite, Zipporah. Ex. 2:21
Boaz married a Moabite, Ruth. Ruth 4:13
Salmon married a Canaanite, Rahab. Matt.1:5
Solomon, on the other hand, is an example of spiritual downfall from multiple mixed marriages. (I K. 11:1–8).The bad effect of marrying outside the faith is that the believer is usually neutralized, as Solomon was, in spite of his royal powers. II Cor.6:14.
2:14–16 Weeping at the altar is useless when the covenant of marriage has been broken. Men were divorcing their wives when they were older and no longer attractive. The Lord wants godly offspring.
The implication is that the intact God-fearing home is the best place to raise children in the ways of God. God wants us to have godly children.
In summary. the offering was rejected because
The gift was inferior. The Receiver was not honored.
The giver was disaffected toward God.
The priest was ignorant, irresponsible, and unfaithful.
The giver / husband had broken the rule to marry in the Lord.
The giver / husband had broken his covenant with his wife and divorced her.
So, beside the quality of the gift, the status of the priest, and the integrity of the giver are required to make an acceptable offering to God.
The Catholic position is that grace is the result of the sacrificial act performed independent of the spiritual status of the performer (ex opere operando). The priest must be ordained, but may be immoral or heretical and the sacrament still has validity. The same concept allows the recipient of a sacrament to receive merit independent of the person’s faith. So the newborn and the unconscious can be baptized and receive salvation. Augustine originated this church doctrine.
Wycliffe rejected the idea and went further, declaring that the preaching of the Gospel was much more important than conducting the ceremonies. Preaching the Gospel “Preaching the Gospel exceeds prayer and administration of the sacraments to an infinite degree…. Spreading the gospel has far wider and more evident benefit; it is thus the most precious activity of the church.” – John Wycliffe (d.1384 AD; quoted in The Story of Christian Theology. R.E. Olson; IVP.’99; p. 359.)
Malachi would agree on both scores. He says a bad priest cannot make a good offering. He also spends his fire on the priests’ failure to give good instruction, suggesting that their public teaching was much more important than their sacramental functions. Today we see a tendency to play up worship at the expense of preaching and teaching—forty minutes for worship, fifteen minutes for preaching. Imagine an OT prophet correcting Christian church doctrine and practice?
The difference between OT offerings and ours is that propitiation is not our objective. Their primary offering was to obtain forgiveness. There were thank offerings and festival offerings, but propitiation was their first concern. It is not the motive of our offerings. Christ has made the propitiatory sacrifice for us. Our offerings are thanksgiving offerings, the return of a grateful heart. They benefit the church, the ministries, and the poor, as did the OT offerings.
But what of sacrifice? We Christians are in a position quite different from the OT saint. We do not offer sacrifices. Offerings are optional. We have nothing really that we can offer to God. (“Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to Thy Cross I cling.”) We are taught not to think of rewards for ourselves. We float in a bath of pure grace.
But if we check a concordance, the words sacrifice and offering are found in the NT.
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Matt. 9:13; 12:7
“…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Rom. 12:1
“…the offering of the Gentiles….” (Rom. 15:16). That is, Paul is offering up his converts as a gift to God.
“...I am poured out as a...sacrifice...of your faith….” (Phil. 2:17, II Tim.4:6) Paul's death is a gift to God.
“… the gifts you sent…a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Phil. 4:18). Paul speaks of money, food, and clothing provided for his personal needs.
“Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.” Heb. 13:15
“…be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” I Pet. 2:5
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I Pet.2: 9
So we are called upon to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, and we acquire some simple lessons from the NT texts.
Mercy is better than sacrifice.
Public testimony is a sacrifice. It can be quite costly, and in some countries, fatal.
People we lead to Christ are a gift to Him.
Our gifts to God’s servants are a sacrifice to God.
Our bodies—ourselves—are a sacrifice to God.
Praising God is sacrificial, the sacrifice of our egos for His glory.
What kinds of offerings and sacrifices would be considered cheap and inferior now?
Gifts given for public approval. Matt. 6:2–4
Gifts made at the expense of exploited workers (James 5:4) or needy parents (Mk. 7:11), or money withheld from the poor. I Jn. 3:17
Easy money given by the rich. Mk. 12:41–44
Gifts given under pressure. II Cor. 9:7
Laundered money— money gotten by gambling, fraud or prostitution. Deut. 23:18
Sacrifices from those who broke their promises. Mal. 2:10–16
Gifts given without thanksgiving. Mal. 1:13
Plainly, we must make our hearts right before God. Then our thanks will be genuine and our gifts and sacrifices will be accepted.