A son honors his father and a servant his master. “If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?” says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, “In what way have we despised Your name?” (Malachi 1:6)
Despising The Worship Of The Lord Of Hosts
The prophet Malachi had a formidable task before him as he surveyed the worship of the people of God. Written after the second temple was built following the captivity of Israel, the warning of religious laxity is clearly presented in a time that while worship was restored to the land the heart of the people was anything but respectful toward God. Their offerings were insolent to the character, holiness, and reverence due the Lord of hosts. They went through the motions of worship and brought offerings for sacrifice but not with a whole heart and not with a spirit of reverence for the favor of the Lord. The charge made against Israel was the people had more respect for the fathers and governors than God. When a sacrifice was brought to the temple it was the lame and sick among the animals that were presented and sometimes the sacrifice had been stolen. The evil of Jewish worship was the careless manner of coming before the Creator of the world as if He were a common man to present broken sacrifices from darkened hearts tainted by the false love of their Savior and King. Sacrifice was defiled by their actions and their hearts. Respect was token when worshiping the Lord although this kind of behavior would never be done before kings and governors. Malachi charges the people with gross dishonor by treating the worship as a carnal time for self-importance. The name of God is treated with contempt and He will have none of it. God looks down upon the worship of Israel and pleads with someone to shut the doors so the priests would not put worthless sacrifices on the altar. The Lord is not pleased with the attitudes of those who come before Him in vain and trifled worship. As a result of the indolence of the people, the name of the Lord is being profaned among the nations and viewed as no different as the gods of idolatry.
From the beginning of the world when Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to the Creator, respect and honor have been required for the worship of man to his Lord and Master. Throughout holy writ men have trifled with the worship of God and found His wrath instead. Nadab and Abihu, sons of the High Priest Aaron, met their death when they dishonored the worship of God. Uzzah was struck dead because he failed to keep the word of the Lord. Israel had returned from the captivity by the grace of God and while the second temple restored the worship to the land of Israel, the heart of the people cared very little for devotional worship. They had more respect for other men than God. Their worship was heartless and without meaning. Malachi delivered a message of divine anger to those who did not respect the worship of the Lord of hosts and warns the worshipers in the New Testament church of the same wrath against those who would see church worship as a time of dishonor. The apostle Paul spent a lot of time trying to correct the problems in the church at Corinth for their disrespect for true worship. They had fallen into the same trap of the Jews in Malachi’s day by coming to worship and having a fun time, a place to enjoy frivolity, offering worship that was broken with the attitudes of recreation and play. There was no reverence. Respect was not given to the holy character of God. The services had become a circus of amusement and sideshows. God’s word was not lifted in honor. His name was not lifted in reverence and respect. Worship was anything but worship.
There is a constant danger in the church of Christ to allow a frivolous and profane attitude of worship to prevail in the hearts of God’s people. Church services become a time of weariness by those who are shallow in their understanding of the word of God. Lacking depth for divine perception, worship becomes a time of superficiality where the focus is more on the man than upon the holy character of the Lord of hosts. The reverence due to the Lord is not felt by the masses who assemble to be entertained and have their ears tickled with the fancies of carnality. Worship must be done in spirit and truth according to the Son of God. Anything short of this is vain worship and God abhors vain worship. Sneering at the pattern of divine worship will engage the wrath of the one who sent His Son to die for the sins of men. Without a proper view of acceptable worship, the offerings will become profane and useless. Malachi’s message sought to turn the hearts of the returning Jews to a true pattern of worship. His book is found as the final testimony before the famine of divine revelation begins but must be read as the first book to open up the portals of true worship in the eyes of the Lord of hosts. This day is the first day of the week and a time to respect, honor and revere the name of God. What is done in the assembly of the saints will determine the honor given the Lord of hosts whether His name will be great among the nations or defiled by the disrespect of its worshipers. “For I am a great King,” says the Lord of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations.”