May 21, 2011

Minor Prophets XCVIII: The Sound of A Slamming Door

Malachi 1:2-3 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

So what does God mean when He says, "Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated" in verse 2 & 3?

In the phrase love….hated, the terms are not to be understood as emotions but rather a choice over one as opposed to the other for a covenant relationship. To hate someone in this way meant to reject them and to disavow any “loving” association with them. These verbs may not necessarily indicate eternal implications for Jacob or Esau either. This words appear to be directed at the nations descended from these two men.

What should also be noted is that they are in the perfect tense so not only do they express a past relationship with Israel and Edom but also the historical and present dealings with them as of Malachi’s day. Israel and Edom were judged by the Babylonians but it is only Israel that is restored. All future attempts at restoration by Edom are thwarted. They are never to be restored.

In Malachi 1:6-14 we move on to see a particular group being addressed by Malachi.

In v.6: Malachi fingers the priests in his rhetorical questioning. The priests ask a stupid question of their own (or perhaps it is legit since they are so desensitized to their own sin), “'How have we despised your name?”. They did not even realize they were “dissing” or disrespecting God. Dummies. In v.7 defiled food is referred to here. This should’ve been enough to make the priests repent but they were clueless as is evident by their next question, “‘How have we defiled you?” They had defiled God “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible.” They had offered blemished unacceptable blind animals for sacrifice and sacrificed lame or diseased animals” Offerings that even a human governor would’ve most likely been offended by. Their teaching had caused many to stumble.

In verse 1:10 we can make a specific and contemporary application to us in the modern church that think heaven is a sure thing. Think again.

“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.” Malachi 1:10

Malachi is serious when he says that it would be better if the temple doors are shut rather than continue worthless worship. It is incredulous to him that these goofy priests would think that there is any value in such a disrespectful display of careless meaningless worship. God is not pleased with the sacrifice and is even less pleased with those committing these misguided fake displays of reverence. Ironically I can’t help but think that God would feel the same about the “going-through-the-motions” worship by today’s church goers that only show up at church to “save face” or “put in their time” to get to heaven. The modern church attenders that only give lip service but when it actually comes to putting in time on their knees in true repentance and in contrite behavior they are AWOL. I believe there will be a lot of surprised people in heaven that have few rewards or worse, they will be in a long warm eternity a little south of righteous. They will be baffled by the fact they thought they knew the Lord but instead they will hear, “I never knew you”. That door they hear slamming may not be the door to the Temple or Church may be the gates of Heaven slamming in their faces.

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