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Malachi 1:6

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' “

With the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon, the rebuilding of the temple, and the restoration of the sacrificial system, we would expect that the Israelites should have had a renewed and deepened relationship with the Lord. And yet, despite all of this, we read from the book of Malachi that it was actually the opposite - the hearts of the people of Israel were far from the Lord. Even though they performed religious customs which were intended for honoring the Lord, it was evident that their hearts were not truly in a posture of worship. So the Lord raises the prophet Malachi to call His people to repent and turn back to Him.

In the first chapter of Malachi, we read of the prophet indicting the priests for worshiping the Lord with the wrong heart. These priests were doing their regular priestly duties and services before the Lord and yet in their hearts, they were not really honoring the Lord, but rather, dishonoring Him. And so the Lord says to them through Malachi what we read in verse 6, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am father, where is my honor? And if I am master, where is my fear?”.

It is common knowledge that any son must honor his father and that any servant must honor his master. And here God says that if they acknowledge Him as their Father and their Master, why then do they not honor Him? God points out that instead of honoring His name through their deeds, they were actually despising His name. But the priests retort by saying, “How have we despised your name?”. In their own eyes, they were performing their priestly functions just fine. But little did they know that it was not their functions that God was after, but their hearts. And in verse 7, the Lord tells them that they had done so by offering polluted food on His altar. Despite the Lord’s commandment to them to make an offering without blemish, they were offering animals that were blind, lame, and sick. They were rendering to God that which was of no value and no use to them. Here they were, before the God of endless glory and majesty, worthy of their reverence and devotion, and they were disrespecting Him by giving Him less than what is due Him. The practice of making an offering was no longer about worship. It was just a mere routine and duty to them. God then goes as far as saying that even their earthly governor would not accept them or show favor to them when they present such sacrifices, so how much more for their heavenly King who is deserving of their best and their all? Jump to verse 10, God says that they have kindled fire on his altar in vain - they were making offerings for nothing. And then God tells them that He takes no pleasure in them and will not accept the offering from their hand.

You see, even more than the blemished offerings that they were rendering to the Lord, what truly displeased God is how their worship was characterized by a lack of fear of Him. On the outside, it would seem as though they were worshiping God because they were doing all of these religious practices. But on the inside, their hearts were empty of the reverence and awe that God was seeking from their worship.

Dear believer, take a moment to stop and think - are you worshiping God? And more so, are you worshiping Him with the reverence that He requires? As you recognize the greatness of God and the greatness of His works, does your heart overflow with praise and thanksgiving? Worship must be our immediate response to seeing the greatness of God in all that He is and all that He has done. Reverence for God is a requirement for worship not only because God demands it, but also because God alone is worthy of it.

We must guard ourselves against worshiping God in a way that is not worthy of Him or in a way that is contrary to His Word. Too often, we define the way we worship God in our own terms. But worshiping God correctly requires worshiping Him in His own terms. To do that, our worship must be fueled by the truths of God - and the only place we can find that is in Scripture. So in order to worship God in the way He wants us to, we need to be founded on His Word first. God’s Word is the bedrock of God-exalting worship.

In all that we will be doing, may we be intentional about worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth, for this is the only true and acceptable worship to Him.

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