Today’s reading: Malachi 1
I have begun doing a bit of early morning Bible hopping. This is not the suggested method of Bible study for most folks, but I’m doing it just to mix things up a bit. So… the window is open, the sun is rising, the birds are singing, the world is revolving…
If I were a betting man (I am not), I’d be willing to wager up to a nickel – even a dime if I really got out of control – that when you mention Malachi to your average, Sunday morning church going Christian, one word comes to mind: tithe. And, if that is your perception of the last book of the Christian Old Testament canon, you are missing so much. In many ways, Malachi really sets the scene for the New Testament. Chapter one alone gives us a feel for why (perhaps) God was silent for four hundred years before the arrival Jesus.
Read Malachi 1 and you will see that the LORD is not talking in legalistic terms. His people are technically – technically – fulfilling what they see as their legal obligation. They are bringing animals for sacrifice. But, the animals being offered are of low quality. They are the worst of the fields, the meat they themselves wouldn’t eat or offer to any other person. This meat makes those hamburger patties with the pink goo in them seem like grade A beef.
What we are seeing is the same old cyclical behavioral pattern that keeps playing out, time and again, throughout the OT and throughout humanity’s history:
1. God’s children are faithful.
2. Their focus begins to move away from the LORD.
3. Pretty soon the sin hits the fan and they find themselves facing unpleasant consequences.
4. God, Who is faithful throughout, corrects and ultimately rescues his children.
5. Back to step one, where the cycle begins anew.
Sound familiar? Bear in mind that, within that cycle, every “they” is “we.” We do the same things – individually and corporately. We get distracted – work, spouse, kids, ball games, this thing and that… We get to a point where we go to church on Sunday. But, really, it’s just another obligation. Now, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying, “Don’t let your kids play hockey.” Enjoy life! But, whatever you do, do it with the right priorities.
In other words, put God first. Not in a legalistic manner. But, rather, in your heart. Don’t give God the scraps of your life. He is our Father. He is GOD. He deserves better. Do what you do with Godly purpose. If what you do hinders your walk with Christ, cut back or stop. Make sure God is not just on your list. If Jesus is truly Lord of your life – which means you willingly let Him call the shots. As Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God – His will, His ways, His Word.