Disobedience of the Priests
Open Your Bible
Malachi 1:6-14, Psalm 87:1-7, Ezekiel 36:16-23
When my daughter was first learning about sharing with other people, she used to say the funniest things. She would say, “I AM sharing. Sharing with ME.”
We’d laugh it off, and thankfully as she’s grown she has become an incredibly kind, encouraging, and giving person, willing to share with whomever is around. But when she was little, those feeble attempts at “sharing” were empty gestures. She wasn’t really sharing; she was just saying the words.
In the second disputation in Malachi, we see the Lord call out the Israelite priests for the same type of behavior. They were sacrificing, yes, but they were sacrificing blind and lame animals. Some animals were stolen, and some were sick. Not only were the priests violating the Mosaic covenant (Leviticus 22:18–25), but they dismissed the Lord’s accusations.
The Lord is righteously angry with the priests. The system of sacrifice He had established to make a way for unclean people to be clean was breaking down. The priests disregarded the law, made nonchalant offerings, and then claimed, “What a nuisance!”
The priests weren’t really sacrificing. They were going through the motions, but not experiencing the fullness of what the Lord had intended for them. They took His name and presence for granted. Contextually, it’s hard to imagine. The people of Israel had already been exiled for this exact behavior: ignoring the Lord, following other gods, not taking His name seriously. But the Lord had restored them. They were home. And yet, again, they were falling back into the same sinful patterns.
The book of Malachi is unique, a set of prophecies written after the return to Israel. But its warnings feel deeply personal to me. Am I really living in the fullness of what the Lord intended? Do I go through the motions without feeling the cost of following Him? Am I taking His goodness, presence, and mercy for granted?
I love how the sharply-wielded critique of a thousands-year-old prophet can cut me down to my knees. It’s the power of Scripture, the words of the holy Lord of Armies, reminding me that He alone is God, and His name will be feared among the nations. I’m thankful for that promise, and the reminder that the center of my universe is not me and my sad attempts at sacrifice, but rather the God who made it all.