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- By The Gentle Waters
- Complete In Thee
- The theme of our message this morning is on the idea of honor or reverence. This past week I was accosted with two ungodly examples of honor and reverence.1). An add popped upon on my screen this week that told me it was pride month, and that I needed to “honor” pride month. What a contradiction of terms! Our society has strayed far from the path of giving honor to God! They have instead created a world where we are supposed to honor sin!2). The second example came yesterday as I was watching coverage of the Warriors winning the NBA finals. Sports commentators were talking about how the victory of the Warriors (their 4th NBA title) might damage the legacy of other NBA superstars. One commentator said this about a player, “I don’t just respect him, I reverence him.” I shook my head in disbelief that we are now using terms like “reverence” in relation to other people- even if they are NBA basketball players.The truth is we are all designed by God with the ability to show honor and reverence. He hard wired us to be creatures of worship. The problem is that honor and reverence is too often misdirected.That was the problem in Malachi’s day. The Jewish people no longer showed God the honor or the reverence He deserved.The book of Malachi not only comes at the end of our OT in terms of book order, it is the end of the OT in terms of chronological order as well. That means, this is the last revelation given by God before a 400 year period of silence.We know very little about the prophet Malachi other than his name- which means “my messenger.”Malachi wrote to a post-exilic people shortly after the historical events and ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah. In 458 BC you had the second major return from captivity to Jerusalem under Ezra. Ezra brought about a significant spiritual reform. Then in 445 BC the final major return of exiles happened under Nehemiah. Under Nehemiah, the broken walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt and again the people underwent a significant spiritual reformation.Apparently those spiritual revivals under Ezra and Nehemiah did not last long, for when Malachi enters the scene the people are once again living in sin and covenant unfaithfulness.The primary message of Malachi is “God rejects empty and half-hearted religion.”He begins his preaching by addressing the spiritual emptiness of the priests. They had lost their love, their fervor, and their reverence for the Lord.The priests of Malachi’s day should have been like Levi-5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.Instead of fearing God and standing in awe of His name, the priests of Malachi’s day were despising, defiling, and profaning God’s name.Thus, in Malachi 1, the prophet’s message is this:Propositional Statement: Our great God deserves our genuine reverential awe!Sermon Question: How do we revere God and stand in awe of His name?I want to look at three ways we can revere God and stand in awe of His name.I. We must be overwhelmed by God’s gracious love (1:1-5)If we are going to have authentic fear for God, if we are going to stand in awe of His name, then we must be overwhelmed by His gracious love for us!Malachi 1:1–2 (ESV)1 The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?”Dwell on the wonderful declaration of God to His people- “I have loved you.” How would you respond if God personally told you, “I have loved you.” How would you feel?How did the Jews of Malachi’s day respond? “How have you loved us?”90% of communication is non-verbal. I don’t think this was a sincere question. This was not, “Oh, really God you have loved us in the past? How exactly did you show your love for us?”I think there is some disbelief in the voice of the Jews in their response! “Really, how have you loved us?” The idea being- God your don’t really love us! How could they say that? What is going on in their hearts that would make them questions God’s love for them?A. We question God’s love for us when we become fixated on everything we don’t haveWhat happened to Judah in 586 BC? Exile to Babylon.Did Judah remain as exiles forever? 538 BC what happened? Decree of CyrusJews begin to return from captivity to Jerusalem and they begin to rebuild.516 BC what significant structure is rebuilt? The temple!Then you have spiritual reforms under Ezra and Nehemiah, and the walls are rebuilt.You have several occasions where the people to a large degree repent of their sin and turn back to the Lord.What major event did the Jews expect to happen next? The coming of the Messiah! The Kingdom of God was supposed to come. Their enemies were supposed to be vanquished, they were supposed to enjoy unparalleled blessing.Instead what did the Jews of Malachi’s day have? They were living under the thumb of Persian domination. There was a meager sense of autonomy, but it was nothing like what they wanted. God, where is the prosperity! God where is the kingdom? Where are your blessings?Then, Malachi comes along and says to them, God told me to tell you this, “I have loved you.” But you say, “how have you loved us?”“No prosperity, no wealth, no kingdom! God you don’t love us at all!”This is the essence of a greedy heart! They were fixated on everything they did not have.Illustration: How easy is it to fixate on what we don’t have?Why do I have to live through inflation? Why can’t it be like the good old days?Why do I have to put up with such and such a governor or president? Why can’t we have good leaders for once?Why didn’t I get that promotion at work? Why did I have to live through a pandemic?Or they could be very serious questions?Why didn’t God give me another child? Why didn’t God give me any children at all? Or a spouse? Or why did God let me go through such a painful trial?It is very easy to fixate on what we don’t have! That is a dangerous place to be, it comes out of a heart of greed. Greed is the lusts in our hearts that wants what it does not have. I deserve more!Instead of having a greedy heart that can cause us to even question God’s love for us, what should the attitude of our heart be?B. We become overwhelmed with God’s love when we remember everything He has already given usMalachi 1:2–3 (ESV)2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated.Remember the people’s question- “God how have you loved us?”Here is God’s answer:Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother? Wasn’t he the older brother? Wasn’t Esau the one who should have received the blessing? Yet, God chose Jacob. What is God doing here?The people have greedy hearts because they were dwelling on their circumstances. God is trying to rekindle their gratitude by getting them to focus on their elect position. God chose Jacob, who became Israel. God entered into a covenant with Israel and blessed Israel beyond comparison. He did not do that for any other nation! God chose them. If they would but paused to dwell on their position all doubts of God’s benevolence disappear.Now we can understand and get behind the statement by God “I have loved Jacob.” We have a hard time understanding and processing the statement by God, “But Esau I have hated.”God doesn’t say I hated Esau’s sin, but loved Esau. He says “Esau I have hated.” How can it be said of God that he hated someone?1). The Hebrew idea of “hate” does not always carry with in the emotional weight or baggage that our English word for “hate” carries.Example: Genesis 29:30-31 | Jacob loved Rachel "more than Leah" (v. 30), yet God saw that as "hate" (29:31). In the context of these verses the idea is that Jacob chose Rachel to a greater degree than he did Leah. There is not conveyed in the text the idea of emotional hatred by Jacob for Leah, only that Rachel was his first choice.God chose to enter into covenant relationship with Jacob. He did not chose to enter into covenant relationship with Esau. In that way God “hated” Esau.2). Edom deserved to be judged by God because of its sin.3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’ ”The nation of Edom are the descendants of Esau. Here Malachi tells us in what way God “hates” Esau. God laid waste to the hill country of Edom and turned its heritage into a desert fit for nothing but the jackals. He will not allow Edom to rebuild, he will tear down. Why? Notice the end of v. 4, “they will be called the wicked country.” Why is God judging Edom? Because of their wickedness!Obadiah brings out this exact point. Obadiah’s message was against the nation of Edom. Listen to what he tells them:15 For the Day of the Lord is near, against all the nations. As you have done, so it will be done to you; what you deserve will return on your own head.There is always maintained in Scripture the mystery of both God’s sovereignty (God chose Jacob and hated Esau) and man’s responsibility (what you deserve will return on your own head.) And we feel that mystery sharply here in Malachi.What is the point of Malachi bringing all this up?5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”God wanted his people to remember their elect position. He chose them, not Esau. He graciously worked on their behalf. He preserved for them a remnant. He remains faithful to His covenants with them, and will do wonders on their behalf one day. If they will but pause and reflect of God’s gracious love that He has already shown them, instead of saying “how have you loved us” their response would be “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel.”When is the last time you have paused and remembered all the things God has done for you? How has God already shown you His gracious love?30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.Do you know what theologians call this verse? Golden chain of salvation. Why?Every verb in this text is in the aorist tense. That is, the verbs have the idea of past action. If you look at the verbs in this verse how many of them actually occured in the past? Predestined (remember believer that before the foundation of the world God chose you), called (at some point in your life God graciously called you to Himself), justified (at some point in your life God justified you), glorified (has that happened yet?) Why does God use a past tense verb then? Because in God’s mind your glorification is so certain it is as if it has already happened! And if one of these things is true about you, if you have been justified for instance, then all of these things are also true about you. So if you have been justified, then you know you were also predestined, and called, and that one day you will be glorified! That is an incredible thing to dwell on!This morning God is speaking to you and he is saying, “I have loved you!”What is your response? Do you call into question God’s love? “How have you loved me?” Are you focusing on your circumstances alone? Are you dwelling on what you don’t have? Do you have a greedy heart?Or have you been overwhelmed by God’s gracious love that he has already given you? Do you have a grateful spirit? Are you able to cry out with genuineness, “Great is the Lord, and worthy to be praise, and His greatness is unsearchable!”How do we revere God and stand in awe of His name?We must be overwhelmed by God’s gracious love!What does that look like?One hymn writer put it this way,O Savoir as my eyes beholdThe wonders of Thy might untoldThe heav’ns in glorious light arrayedThe vast creation Thous has made.And yet to think Thou lovest meMy heart cries out, “How can it be?”How can it be?How can it be?That God should love a soul like me,O how can it be?Or another hymn writer said it like this,And can it be that I should gainAnd interest in the Savior’s blood?Died He for me who cause His pain?For me who Him to death pursued?Amazing Love!How can it beThat Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?Amazing love!How can it beThat Thou, my God shouldst die for me?Jesus said it this way, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.”You will never revere God and stand in awe of His name, if you first don’t love God with all your heart.How do you know if you truly love God with all your heart? How do you know if that love is being shown through proper reverence and awe?Malachi's answer is this: evaluate your worship!There is a direct connection between your love for God and the way you offer worship to God.How do we revere God and stand in awe of His name?II. We must offer God weighty worship (1:6-11)If we are going to have authentic fear for God, if we are going to stand in awe of His name, then we must make sure that the worship we offer to Him is weighty.Malachi 1:6 (ESV)6 “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 youHonor- root idea is that of weightiness or heaviness. Something that is important is often thought of as a weighty matter. We use the idiom- it is no light matter! To think of God this way means we show God a high degree of respect or reverence.Fear- the idea of reverence, a feeling of profound respect for someone!Illustration: God gives us a vivid word picture to help us understand the kind of worship He is looking for. He gives us the illustration of a father. A son ought to show honor to his father. Today is father’s day. It is right to show honor to our dads. What does that look like?Dallas Putnam discipling a man in their church who doesn’t have a dad. After a while of mentoring him, coming along side him and teaching him the bible, this man asked Dallas, “Can I call you dad?” And he does. Now, every time he sees Dallas, it’s “hi dad.” Is calling Dallas “dad” a title of honor? Absolutely!What if you don’t have a good relationship with your dad, or you may no longer have a dad. That is one of the unexpected yet God intended blessings of the local church. You can adopt a spiritual dad or mom. The best way to do that is to ask someone in the church, that you respect and look up to, ask them to disciple you! In that kind of life-on-life relationship it will just naturally happen that you will enter into that parent-child like relationship. And it is a wonderful thing!Malachi’s point is this God desires the honor due a father and the respect / fear due a master. He wants the reverence due to His name- He is the Lord Almighty!And yet what were the priests of Malachi’s day offering God instead?6 “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?’Instead of honor and respect the priests were despising His name!Despise- to think lightly of something! to significantly undervalue someone, “to accord little worth”How? Their lack of reverence was displayed through their WORSHIP!7 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.Attitude of their heart- v. 7 “By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised.”c.f. Prov 14 22 Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
Although one might expect this from a “devious” person (Prov 14:2), Eli the priest (1 Sam 2:30), King David (2 Sam 12:9–10), King Zedekiah (Ezek 16:59), and the priesthood in Malachi’s day (Mal 1:6, 7, 12) treated Yahweh with contempt.In what way did the priests despise or treat lightly the Lord’s altar and its sacrifices?8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.Imagine having the governor over to your house for dinner and before you cook him the meal you show him the animal that you will butcher and prepare for him. And then you lead out from the barn a sheep that is blind in both eyes, it’s lame and can only hobble around on the ground, and it so sick that it is coughing and wheezing, maybe its lost a significant amount of weight and it just skin and bones. What do you think the governor of the land would think? Would you ever even consider offering that kind of animal to someone in the position of leadership?(Maybe you are tempted to think, “I would offer my governor something that good!” That is another sermon in itself. We ought to show respect and honor to those in leadership positions! It is frankly shameful the way many Christians behave towards their governors or higher elected officials).If you would never offer that kind of animal to your governor, what makes you think that God would accept you?9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.There is a direct connection between your love for God and the way you offer worship to God.The priests were despising the name of Almighty God by being careless in their worship. They were thinking lightly about God. They were undervaluing God, they were according him little worth. What does that say about their love for God?Do we every offer God this kind of worship?What do you mean pastor? I have never once offered God a lamb that was blind or lame or sick. We don’t offer animal sacrifices any more do we? But we still offer God sacrifices of worship! What kind of sacrifices do we offer now? Spiritual sacrifices of worship.1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.What is the quality of your spiritual sacrifices of worship? What kind of worship are you offering God?What kind of spiritual offerings do we offer to God?We are to offer holy lives for His serviceWe are to spend ourselves for the needs of othersSharing the gospel is another way we offer God spiritual sacrifices of worshipSharing what we have with othersSacrifices of praiseAnd even our giving to gospel ministry are all spiritual sacrifices that we are to offer to God as worship.What is He worth to you?Is God worth of growing in holiness so we can better serve him?Is God worth sacrificing our lives for the lives of other people?Is God worth sharing your faith with the unsaved people around you?Is God worth spending quality time in His word and in prayer everyday?If God worth getting yourself to church regularly and being involved in the work of ministry?If these things are you offerings to God, what is the quality of your offerings? Will God see them as no better than blind, lame, and sick animals? Are you undervaluing God in your worship? What does that say about your love for Him?What is God’s opinion of those who offer him light worship? Worship that undervalues His greatness?10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.What kind of worship does God deserve?11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.How do we revere God and stand in awe of His name?1. We must be overwhelmed by God’s gracious love!2. We must offer God weighty worshipIII. We must offer God worthy worship (1:12-14)If we are to revere God and stand in awe of His name then we must offer God worship that is worthy of his exalted status. God is sacred, He is holy, there is none like Him! And our worship must be worthy of Him.Malachi 1:11–12 (ESV)11 For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane itWhat is the “it”? The name of the Lord! Someone’s name is what makes them unique, special, or significant!to profane v. — to violate the sacred character of someone
To “profane” means to desanctify, to make or treat something as unholy, that is, as common, insignificant, or worthless.
To “profane” someone’s name meant to ruin their reputation3 I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name.One of the ways the people of Israel had profaned the holy name of the Lord in the past was through child sacrifice. How were these priests profaning the Lord’s name in Malachi’s day?12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.Notice this is in respect to their worship again- they were profaning the Lord’s table- his altar, by saying its not holy its polluted (defiled or common). The priests were profaning it by telling the people, it is OK to give God sacrifices that were despised.Notice the next part- “you say, What a weariness this is, and you snort at it!”Have you ever gotten to that point in your worship? I don’t want to go to church anymore- I’m so tired of it! I don’t want to read my bible, I don’t want to witness, I don’t want to pray .... It is a weariness, it is a nuisance, how tiresome, what a burden! And even worse your snort at it! You turn your nose up at it, you scorn it, you sneer at it!Illustration: Parents have you ever told your kids to do something (do your chores), and they ask why and they argue with you. Then when you give them the reason- “you have to do chores because everyone in the family needs to pitch in and help.” Have they ever responded by snorting at you? Do we ever do this to God?Achhh- All I want to do is sleep in and I have to get up and go to church. What a burden.When we have this attitude in our hearts towards our worship we profane the holy name of God! We de-sanctify it, we treat what is holy as common.Notice the intensification in the end of v. 13- You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick. In v. 7 it was the blind, lame and sick animal. Now because the priests are not just despising the sacrifices but are now profaning the sacrifices they are even offer animals that have been stolen as worship to the Lord.What is God’s response? Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.“Cursed” this is covenant language. God will bring judgement on His people for their profane worship! Why?For I am a great King! says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations!God is a great King! What kind of worship does his name deserve?Propositional Statement: Our great God deserves our genuine reverential awe!Sermon Question: How do we revere God and stand in awe of His name?1. We must be overwhelmed by God’s gracious love!2. We must offer God weighty worship3. We must offer God worthy worshipHow about you? Do you know God? Do you know His gracious love? Do you love Him in return?Is He great in your eyes? Do you offer to him weighty worship? Do you offer to him worthy worship?Do you fear Him, Do you stand in awe of his great name?
- Worthy Of Worship
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