“But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.” (Malachi 1:14)
A deceiver is the rightful title of the man who possesses that which would be acceptable as a gift to God, yet chooses to withhold it for his own lusts. God deserves the best. He deserved the best from His people in Malachi's day, and He deserves the best from His people in the Church age. Nothing has changed. The Christian who chooses to withhold that which he should give to God and brings something else with the pretense that he loves God is nothing less than a deceiver and a liar. It would be better to bring no offering at all than to bring an unworthy one under the guise of genuine love. The curse pronounced here is not limited to the dispensation of the Old Testament. The believer would do well to heed this warning and follow the example of the widow who cast in “...even all her living (Mark 12:44).” The attitude and actions of these priests was not only wicked but also utterly foolish. When has God ever failed to take care of those who serve Him? Proverbs 3:9-10 is clear in its promises to the one who puts God first, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
There are three titles for God used in this verse, and each one is more reverent than the former. First, he is called Lord. This is not His name Jehovah which is most often translated LORD. This is the title for Master. He is the supreme Master who deserves the consistent dedication and loyalty of His servants. Every child of God is first and foremost a servant of His Master. With such numerous and gracious privileges provided through Jesus Christ, it is often easy to forget that a man is first a servant. The second title is that of great King. He is the King of all creation. He made all, and all is held together by His power and wisdom (Colossians 1:17). No place can hide a man from the eye of His great dominion. A man would show proper fear to another mortal who held the position of king; how much more should a man fear the great King of heaven? The last title used is that of the LORD of hosts. This is the name Jehovah of the armies. He commands the armies of heaven and the armies of the earth. He holds absolute sway over all powers, be they good or be they evil. Every nation which has ever existed has ultimately been nothing more than a pawn in God's service, unable to go beyond the boundaries predetermined by His mighty decree. No man or demon could or ever will be able to stand before Him. Should not the deceiver therefore repent of his ways and worship such a One?
The word dreadful is the same word for fearful. Often times the heathen who hold no special place in God's service give Him more deference than the supposedly religious. This verse has some millennial implications. The traumas of the Great Tribulation will give the nations of the earth an appreciation for the fear of the Lord, and all the earth will serve Him during the one thousand year reign of the Messiah.
Such is God's evaluation of unworthy sacrifices. No heart was ever tainted by an imperfect offering, but many an offering has been polluted by an impure heart.