Agonizomai: Malachi 1:12-14 - The Insanity of Sin

Friday, July 31, 2009

Malachi 1:12-14 - The Insanity of Sin

Malachi 1:12-14 - The Insanity of Sin

Malachi 1:12-14 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

So Israel’s great sin was what? It was to fail to believe God because they did not love Him with all their heart and soul and mind. They despised Him. And you may say, "Wait a minute. Isn’t that a bit harsh to say they despised Him? Aren’t you being judgmental here?" Not at all! To fail to do all the things of the law instantly, completely and joyfully is to despise Him from Whom the Law comes.

Can we not see that the polluted offerings, the second-hand goods are not in themselves the problem. It is the view of God in the eyes of the offerers that is the problem. Here is the Lord of glory, perfect in all His ways, Holy, maker of all that there is, sustaining their lives with all manner of blessings, including breath and food and home and hearth. Here is God Who has revealed Himself to them and given them His oracles, Who has delivered them from the bondage of Egypt and brought them into the promised land; in Whom is life and blessings forevermore. And what is the attitude of the leaders? “Yeah, yeah - but let’s go through the motions and slip in a crippled lamb while He’s not looking.

What foolishness! If God is God then He is always looking. All things are before Him. There is nothing done in the dark that is not open to His gaze and that will not ultimately be revealed. He knows the very innermost heart of every man. Do you see the insanity of sin? Of not loving God with every breath. Of not understanding that from moment to moment all things come from His hand by grace through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we understand this more fully in the gospel age. But Israel had been given the miracles, the law, the prophets - and they all pointed to Christ! {Luke 24:25-27,24:44, John 5:39,5:46} Yet they were found in unbelief. And without faith is impossible to please God. Furthermore, not showing any of the fruit of faith in Him is ultimately evidence of not even belonging to Him.

To "cheat" God is to be insane. But sin is insanity. And all of humanity is consequently insane, because all cheat Him - even the most pious and altruistic. The taint of self-direction, self-will, self-glorying, self-serving - simply put, the god of self - is upon every inclination and motion of the heart of every son of Adam. {Ge 6:5} It is only the restraining common grace of God Who works by His Spirit in the World, for the sake of and because of the work of, Jesus Christ that men are not seen as the utterly evil and totally depraved beings that they are.

If the heart of man is deceitful above all, and desperately wicked, what can explain any goodness, even in the unregenerate, but the work of God Himself? God alone is good. {Mr 10:18} God and no one else. When the Bible speaks of the righteous it speaks of those who are both declared and rendered righteous by sanctification through faith in the One Who alone is righteous.

But it goes beyond simple cheating. What is it that the lamb (or other offering) represents? It represents Christ, the eternal Son come from heaven to take on flesh so that He could die as the representative, the substitute, and thus propitiate the wrath of God against our sin. This is the perfect, spotless, unblemished real offering - the only effective offering; and it was vital to preserve that concept - else the whole idea of the just dying for the unjust, the perfect redeeming the depraved, the holy offered in place of the profane is watered down. Israel was called to be the living demonstration of the need for the purity of the sacrifice and, by this, to witness to the coming Lamb of God.

There is a lesson for today’s church here also - for those who claim to be leaders and shepherds. Do not water down the sacrifice. Do not minimize Him in any way. Do not take liberties or make shortcuts that fail to present the Christ in His holy perfection. He was not simply a good man (that is to present a crippled Christ); nor was He a man becoming God (that is to present a spotted Messiah). For all men are universally corrupt and the taint of sin infects every aspect of their being. But because Jesus Christ was spotless - He then must necessarily have been both God and man.

Those who shrink from this truth in the least way rely on a sacrifice that is unable to save. Those to whom this immeasurable sacrifice becomes blasé, boring, wearying - to whom it becomes "ordinary" - are in a very great danger indeed. God hates two things above all others - hypocrisy and tepidity. O - He hates all sin, of course - and all sinners - but He especially hates these two things.

Among the first and last things we encounter with the Christ are the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the coldness of the Laodicean church. {Mr 2:8-11 Re 3:16} Both in their own way show contempt for the sacrifice. But note the repetition - "I AM a great King and My Name will be feared among the nations." Through us or in spite of us God’s Name will be magnified in Jesus Christ before men and angels and before the demons of hell. Every mouth will be stopped and every knee will bow and confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father.

And He is glorified because He has shown Himself to be love and mercy and grace and forbearance and patience - as well as holy and just and a hater of sin, and those who do it.


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