Exceedingly Precious Promises
Tuesday, 3 May 2005
Pleasing Worship
Now Playing: How much of our hearts are we giving to the Lord ?
Topic: Worship
"For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name, and a pure offering: for My name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. " (Malachi chapter 1)

Although little or nothing is known of the personal life of Malachi the prophet, nonetheless he has given us one of the most interesting books in the Bible. Not only is this the last book of the Old Testament, it is also the last stern rebuke of the people of God, the last call for them to repent, and the last promise of future blessing for Israel.

In Malachi's day the people had become increasingly indifferent to spiritual matters. Religion had lost its glow and many of the people had become skeptical, even cynical. The priests were unscrupulous, corrupt, and immoral. The people refused to pay their tithes and offerings to the Lord and their worship degenerated into empty formalism. While the people had strong male lambs in their flocks, they were bringing blind and lame animals to be offered on the altars of Jehovah. Malachi was commissioned by God to lash out against the laxity of the people of God.

This prophecy is unique for it is a continuous discourse. In fact, Malachi has been called "the Hebrew Socrates" because he uses a style which later rhetoricians call dialectic. The whole of this prophecy is a dialogue between God and the people in which the faithfulness of God is seen in contrast to the unfaithfulness of God's people. Thus Malachi is argumentative in style and unusually bold in his attacks on the priesthood, which had become corrupt.

The most blistering attack in the entire book comes in Jehovah's dispute with His priests. If anyone should have known better than to fall to idolatry and corruption, it ought to have been those who served at the Temple of God. Still, the priests had again and again polluted the bread of the altar of God; they had sacrificed spotted animals on that altar and thus had made the table of the Lord contemptible. In addition to this, the priests were involved in empty formalism. They went about their duties day after day in dull drudgery rather than in faith. This was not pleasing to Him and Jehovah told them so.

In contrast, Jehovah declared the kind of worship that is acceptable: "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles" (Malachi 1:11). It is obvious this was not true in the days of Malachi, for the Gentiles had not yet come to praise the name of Jehovah. Nonetheless, Malachi is speaking prophetically and the day will come, the great millennial day, when all the nations of the earth will flock to the Temple in Jerusalem and there they will worship in sincerity the God of Israel. This worship will be carried on from the rising of the earliest sun to its setting hours later. All day long, service in that day will not be dull drudgery but will be a delightful duty.

What a contrast there is between the conclusion of the Old Testament and the conclusion of the New Testament. The Old Testament concludes with an invective against dead formalism in the church. The New Testament concludes with the bright and morning Star in the midst of the church. Thank God that prophecy does not end with the Old Testament but continues until the day that Jesus Christ will usher in an eternity with Him in Heaven. But let's not wait until then. Let's rise with the sun today and begin a day filled with praise to our God.

MORNING HYMN
O worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing His pow'r and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

(from W. Kroll)

Posted by dondegr0 at 9:28 AM EDT

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