Malachi 1:8
"When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is it not wrong? And when you present the lame and sick ones, is it not wrong? Why not offer them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you or show you favor?" asks the LORD of Hosts.
Sermons
A Strange TestW. Osborne Lilley.Malachi 1:8
Anything Good Enough for GodW. R. F.Malachi 1:8
Blemished OfferingsAlexander MaclarenMalachi 1:8
Imperfect SacrificeJ. G. Rogers, B. A.Malachi 1:8
The Divine AppealG. Brooks.Malachi 1:8
The Law of Acceptable SacrificeR. Tuck Malachi 1:8
The True SacrificeR. W. Evans, B. D.Malachi 1:8
The Profession and the Practice of ReligionD. Thomas Malachi 1:6-9
It must be such as would be acceptable if offered to any earthly official. This, indeed, is but taking low ground, but that the prophet should take this position, and use this argument, is in itself a revelation of the sad condition into which the priesthood of the day had fallen. He could not take high grounds, and make his appeal directly to the holiness of the claims of the infinitely Holy One. "It argues a great contempt of Almighty God when men are less careful in maintaining the decencies of his worship than they are in giving proper respects to their superiors." It should be borne in mind that the Levitical system very rigorously demanded that only sound and clean animals should he presented in sacrifice. It is always necessary to check the meanness of men, which tempts them to put God off with that which they themselves do not greatly value (see Leviticus 22:22, etc.). The sin of offering the imperfect to God can be tested in two very simple ways.

I. OFFER AN IMPERFECT GIFT TO YOUR FRIEND. For a birthday time find something you have done with; something you do not care for; something out of taste in your own house, which you are glad to get rid of; something damaged, or soiled, or broken. You send it, saying in your heart, "It is good enough for him." That gift dishonours the friend, and morally degrades you as the giver. If that friend has any spirit, he despises such gifts, and sends the coldest of acknowledgments of their receipt. Is God in Christ our Friend? What shall be the love gifts which alone can be acceptable to him?

II. OFFER AN IMPERFECT GIFT TO YOUR GOVERNOR. If a man wants to show his respect, or to indicate his gratitude for some favour received, he is always most particular in the selection of his present. He takes care that there is no flaw in it; he selects the best possible; he is most anxious about its being conveyed without injury. If the governor has any spirit, he will not look at or receive anything but the very best. Is God our supreme Governor? Then how can we fail to offer the very best possible to him?

III. OFFER AN IMPERFECT GIFT TO YOUR GOD. Has he not more claim than either friend or governor to the perfect offering? How should we respond to

(1) his authority;

(2) his holiness;

(3) his redemption?

Though out of our sight, he searchingly tests all our gifts, offerings, and sacrifices. Open out how we may be offering the imperfect in

(1) our acts of worship;

(2) our acts of benevolence;

(3) our acts of ministry and service. - R.T.







If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil?
The old law demanded that God should be honoured with the sacrifice of a man's best. Every oblation was to be free from spot or blemish. Such laws had their symbolic and spiritual meaning. They asserted God's right as first and supreme. They embodied the law of sacrifice, which is the law of all holy beings, and they formed a test of the faith and love of those who professed to be worshippers of God. The reality of the test was manifest in the fact that there were those who sought to escape the demand. In their view, anything would do for sacrifice. Are there not multitudes still whose professed worship is nothing more than a mere miserable pretence? Surely our temptations to disobey are just as powerful as ever. Our business now is not with the blasphemer or the infidel, but with those who either render, or fancy that they render, God some service.

1. The appeal of the text may be addressed to all whose service does not include the sacrifice of the heart. Many give their souls to the world, — to what remains God is welcome. They are found in God's house, but though they are present there they do not render any spiritual worship. What is this but offering the blind and lame and sick for sacrifice; and is it not evil? Can it be that it is thus God is content to be served? Not thus would even man be satisfied. It is God only whom we expect to please by a service that lacks every element of thorough heartiness, and is nothing more than a piece of mechanism. Yet is there no other whom it is so utterly hopeless to deceive. He asks the heart, and He knows that, despite all the beauty of our outward rites, the heart is what we absolutely refuse. But such religion is no religion at all

2. The language may be applied to those who purpose to render to God the service of their last hours. They will take thought for the present life, and the soul, with all its immortal interests, they will leave to the uncertain contingencies of a future which may never be theirs. This is bringing the blind, the lame, the sick for sacrifice; and is it not evil? We need not deny the possibility of death-bed repentance; we may not limit the grace of God. But if not impossible, it is in every way improbable that the sacrifice of life's last hour is what God will accept.

3. These words may be addressed to the secret disciple. You will do just so much as is necessary to ensure your salvation, but beyond this nothing more, — there is no love to Jesus constraining devotion, making you rejoice even in the cross which you bear for Him, teaching you, as with a holy ingenuity, to find out modes in which you may glorify Him. And is not this evil?

4. The question may be directed to the half-hearted professor. There are many sharing in our worship who are lacking in all heartiness and fervour. They do not disgrace their profession: they observe with a certain regularity the ordinances; but in all generous, noble, devoted consecration they are found wanting. Let me address myself earnestly to you. Does not the text describe your sacrifice? Everywhere else, if the heart is interested at all, you are full of intense zeal. In religion you are cold and indifferent. Review your own service; compare it with what you do for other lords, and say, does it not correspond with the description of the text?

(J. G. Rogers, B. A.)

I. THE APPEAL.

1. To the dictates of conscience.

2. To the usages of human life.

II. THE LESSONS THE APPEAL SUGGESTS.

1. We have all failed in the discharge of our duty to God.

2. Our failure in the discharge of our duty to God is incapable of defence.

3. We need a Saviour.

4. Our services can be accepted by God only through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(G. Brooks.)

They performed solemn duties hypocritically. Malachi would show them their folly by asking them to test their conduct by the way in which the (Persian) governor of the land would regard it.

I. MEN OFTEN ACT TOWARDS GOD AS THEY WOULD NOT ACT TOWARDS AN EARTHLY RULER. Men generally respect human authorities. If gifts are presented to them they are of the best. They humble themselves before human majesty, and fear to insult it. But men act differently towards God.

1. How many stand in His presence and profane His name. Let them offer that to their governor.

2. How men treat His authority and disregard His commands.

3. How many pretend to make sacrifices for His cause, and yet give only that which is worthless, or what they think will bring the man equivalent in temporal good.

4. How many render heartless homage and selfish service. Men act in these ways sometimes through

(1)Spiritual insensibility;

(2)self-deception;

(3)erroneous conceptions of God; or

(4)covetousness.God has a right to all that we possess. No earthly governor has such a claim upon us. To act towards Him deceitfully is foolish, ungrateful, and ruinous.

II. OUR CONDUCT TOWARDS GOD MAY BE TESTED BY THE WAY IN WHICH IT WOULD BE RECEIVED BY AN EARTHLY RULER. Such rulers are not always just. This is a test that is —

1. Easily applied.

2. One that the humblest can comprehend.

3. One that may reveal much.

4. One that should be applied honestly.

III. THE DISPLEASURE OF AN EARTHLY GOVERNOR MAY REFLECT THE DISPLEASURE OF GOD. This is not always the case. Rulers have been displeased with and persecuted the most holy. But the honest displeasure of a ruler against hypocritical pretensions and deceitful gifts is a reflection of the Divine displeasure. Would thy "governor" be "pleased with thee"? If not, there is —

1. Just cause to fear.

2. Need of reformation.

3. And of a truer consecration of yourselves and your property to God.Learn — Our holiest acts need examination. Our sacrifices may be worthless. It is a great sin to act stingy towards God.

(W. Osborne Lilley.)

In Malachi's time the people seem to have been utterly indifferent as to God, and openly insolent. "Behold," said they, "what a weariness it is!" They thought any thing was good enough for God, and offered Him the refuse of their households. Even the priests had become a set of mercenary hirelings, refusing to do anything without reward. This state of things was a result of living so long in the idolatrous land of Babylon. The people had lost their habits of devotion, and had become accustomed to a life of listlessness and carelessness, and now they found it difficult to submit to the restraints of religion. And these of ours are worldly days. The general idea is that anything is good enough for God. A spare minute, an hour, when we can do nothing else, is all we can devote to God. Notice —

I. THE CHRISTIAN SACRIFICE. Times have changed, but circumstances have not. God does not demand expiatory sacrifice, but He requires spiritual. We are to render Him certain services, and these services are the New Testament sacrifices.

1. There is the heart — penitent, repentant, soft.

2. There is the body — a living sacrifice; for use, for work.

3. Worship.

4. Alms.

II. THE IMPERFECTIONS BY WHICH THESE SERVICES ARE BLEMISHED.

1. Spiritless worship. The form without the spirit.

2. Blind sacrifice. How many crimes have been committed in the name of zeal.

3. Lame offerings. Professors of religion who live in conformity to the world.

4. Sick gifts.Half-hearted prayers, languid attendance at His house, the hand working without the heart, songs without melody. There are preachers who preach ill and sickly sermons. There are Sunday school teachers who offer sickly lessons. It is a terrible thing to offer to God that which is diseased.

(W. R. F.)

Malachi begins with rebuking the unthankfulness of Israel, and ends with a threat of coming and smiting the earth with a curse. Israel gave indeed, a melancholy example of the unthankful heart of man. God's law was, "If there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the Lord thy God." Yet they offered the blind, the lame, the sick for sacrifice, and thought to be accepted of God, though they durst not have offered such things to their governor. But this conduct of Israel is only a lively representation of the way in which God, the giver of all good things, is commonly treated by the receivers of His bounty. Men have found Him so overflowing in kindness, so long-suffering, that they have come to think He will take up with anything. They think not, that though God does not speak out He is watching, and preparing to reckon with them. And, however slow He may be, He will set all right on the great day when He will separate the chaff from the wheat, and the tares from the corn. Applying to ourselves, let us remember what the Lord commands us to offer. Paul says, in His name, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." We are to serve in "newness of the spirit," and not in the "oldness of the letter." The living sacrifice of our body is not only keeping its members in all purity, as we would be members of Christ's body, but also giving to the Lord that "from which all purity must come, a heart devoted to His service, and well instructed for that purpose in all heavenly knowledge and spiritual wisdom. See the particulars of the text.

1. "If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil?" They had plenty of cattle without blemish to offer to the Lord. But they wanted these for themselves. The Christian has a body given him which he may present a living sacrifice unto the Lord, without blemish of sight. In it he has an eye to read the Word of God, an understanding to receive it: an eye to lift up to heaven in prayer, an understanding to offer prayer and praise in the name of the Lord. The eye should be withdrawn from all unholy sights; it should be single and pure. Instead of this, to what service is the eye and understanding commonly devoted! The true and living sacrifice of the body in this particular is the growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Never forget that growth in grace and growth in knowledge go together. Instead of using their eye and understanding in the spiritual service of the Lord, men waste their light in the pursuit of vanity and sin, until at last there comes the appointed hour of their departure from earth. Then at length — and often in vain — they turn their eye and their thoughts unto God.

2. If ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?" The Christian is compared to a runner, and his life to a course. He is to run well, so that he may obtain. But when do men generally begin to set themselves to this race? Just as their course in this world is finishing; when their strength has been wasted in running for earthly prizes. Is not health the season for serving the Lord on every account? Yet many think they have nothing to do with the Lord but in the day of sickness.

3. "Offer it now to thy governor." Men will treat God, their heavenly Sovereign, as they dare not treat man, their earthly sovereign. Some go through life with a fixed purpose of giving to the Lord only the refuse. The man who bows to the ground, and anxiously seeks favour in the sight of his sovereign, and keeps himself continually in his view by doing something which may please, and make his person accepted, will think it a great thing if he kneel in the house of God for a short time once a week. Men who are most particular in wording a petition to be delivered at the throne of their sovereign, and endeavour to turn and polish every sentence, these very men will not trouble themselves to prepare a prayer to be delivered at the footstool of the throne of heaven. Let us all be wise in this, that we fully recognise the high claims of God, and loyally, lovingly, worthily try to meet them.

(R. W. Evans, B. D.)

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