The Reading: Malachi 1:6-14
“How have we despised thy name? How have we polluted it?” (vv.6-7) RSV
We have so far considered the sin of Israel, and how they were woefully unaware of God’s goodness to them. We now turn to the sin of the priests. Their job was to offer sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. As far as they are aware they have done nothing wrong: “How have we despised thy name?” Once again we note that pained, self-righteous tone.
God answers them fairly and squarely. They have been offering substandard sacrifices. They have given second or even third best to God. They obviously did not think it mattered if they offered blind, lame or sick animals to God. After all, they probably reasoned, the sacrifice is going to be burnt so what’s the difference?
However, God is not impressed. They have “polluted it” (v.7). The offering of a sacrifice is not an opportunity to bribe God or impress him, but it is an opportunity to show gratitude and love. It is also a unique chance to fulfil God’s contract for the forgiveness of sins. The terms that God has laid down are that the sacrifices should be perfect.
These perfect sacrifices are, as we know, a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ “who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (Hebrews 9:14). Jesus was, as Peter puts it, “a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19).
Jesus gave himself for us, so that we in our turn might give ourselves (all that we are and all that we have) in response to him. We should give nothing less than the best we have. We give the cream not the skim. We give the first fruits not the last fruits. Let our giving (in whatever form that may be) honour our Lord; may we not “despise his name” (v.6).
Lord, you have been so generous, patient, forgiving and giving to me. Help me O Lord to respond in like manner. Forgive me when I became mean. Amen.
1 Who would not offer to God that which cost him nothing?
2 What are God’s instructions for animals for sacrifice?