Day 16

Disobedience of the Priests

from the Zechariah and Malachi reading plan


Malachi 1:6-14, Psalm 87:1-7, Ezekiel 36:16-23

BY Melanie Rainer

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.

Post Comments (27)

27 thoughts on "Disobedience of the Priests"

  1. Jackline Said says:

    After reading this passage & devotion it is quite easy to reflect on these questions:
    1. Am I bringing shame to the name of God?
    2. Am I serving left overs to a holy God?
    3. Am I going through the same motions or loops of sacrifice / repentance?
    4. Am I living in fullness of what the Lord is intending for me?
    5. Am I taking his grace and mercy for granted?

    For a second there, just trying to answer this questions we are left feeling like failures… but do not be startled, at any given point in your life, it is probable that your answers to these questions will almost always be a big YES! But remember it is by grace you have been saved. So no one would boast about their actions. These questions are not for self condemnation; Jesus himself does not condemn you. “I do not condemn you. GO & sin no more” says the Lord in John 8:11. Rather, this is an opportunity for a deeper prayer and an invitation for a deeper dive at where you can better glorify God. So instead of self-shaming or feeling inadequate, call on the name of the Lord and ask for a heart & mind that continues (despite every occurring failure) to seek Jesus & his kingdom.

    Peace be with you.

  2. Rachel Kelley says:

    This was a convicting reading and devotional message. Am I truly giving God my best in everything—money, service, and daily living? I’d like to say yes but, honestly, know there is plenty of room for improvement.

  3. Kylie Ho says:

    “It is not for your own sake that I’m about to do what I will do, but for the sake of my holy Name.”

    May the Lord bind our ever wandering heart and make it one, for Himself.

  4. Jessica Marsee says:

    This one hit me in the face! I thought of it like this: Am I giving God my first fruits or my leftovers? Am I spending regular time with Him or just what’s leftover, if there is time leftover? Am I tithing regularly or just giving him what’s leftover?

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