Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Indictment Against the Priests of Israel (Part V)

But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.” (Malachi 1:12-13)

Indeed, this is a sad state of affairs. Of all people, the priests should have been leading the nation into a high regard for the Lord's name; but instead, they themselves were profaning it with their attitude. The presentation of the shewbread, the offering up of the morning and evening sacrifice, the sin offering, trespass offering and peace offering had all become nothing more than a burdensome service. It is true that much toil and labor went into the preparation and offering of the sacrifices, yet all these things were not without significance. In some form or fashion, every activity of temple service pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. These priests lost sight of this fact. Instead of guiding the spiritually blind toward the holiness and grace of God, they were discouraging everyone from seeing the purpose in it all. The Levites were to have no physical inheritance. “...the LORD [was] their inheritance...(Deuteronomy 18:2).” This blessed inheritance had become despised in their eyes. A believer priest can fall into the same trap. He may not plummet to same depths as these priests, but he can, in principle, practice the same heart attitude toward the things of his Master. Instead of viewing worship and Christian service as an inheritance and a blessing, the unfocused believer may begin to view these things as nothing more than monotonous tasks that gnaw away at more “important” things. This destructive and ungrateful attitude does nothing to lead others to Jesus Christ. It only, in every way, works spiritual death for the believer and for those with whom he comes in contact.

The word snuffed means to sigh or to breath out heavily as when one is weary or agitated. As a disobedient child breathes out heavily at the thought of doing his daily chores, so these priests sighed at the service of God. Perhaps they did not speak it, yet God knew their hearts; and the heart attitude is just as wicked as the action or word itself. The unappreciative believer may never speak against the service of God for fear of compromising his pride, but the agitated countenance and sighing attitude will most surely betray his sin.

The phrase that which was torn is a participial phrase that may be taken one of two ways. The verb form of this participle means to tear away, pull off, rob by force or take away violently. In every other passage where the verb appears, it conveys one of these meanings. Here, it may convey an animal which had been attacked by a predator and physically torn in the process. On the other hand, it may convey an animal which had been violently taken away from its rightful owner and used as a sacrifice. In either case, to offer such a deficient sacrifice to the Almighty would be unthinkable. The people thought so little of God that the sickly leftovers were all they were willing to expend upon His altar. Such unworthy sacrifices need not be viewed as being limited to the examples listed here. It is possible for a believer of the Church age to be as guilty when he brings God the sickly remainders of his time, wealth and priorities. God clearly displays His divine displeasure with such improprieties by asking “...should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.” God's people need not be surprised when His blessing eludes them after they have been found guilty of such unacceptable services. One cannot put God last and expect a healthy home, a spiritually profitable ministry, or peaceable life, or spiritual, mental, and emotional stability.

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